Benzema, Mbappé, Griezmann, Pogba: the France team has an exceptional workforce. To the point of being the favorite of a competition at a very dense level.
“The European Championship is more difficult to win than the World Cup.” A major player in a formidable World-Euro double (1998-2000) now targeted by his heirs, Fabien Barthez is not the least well placed to play the game of comparisons between the two biggest competitions in selection football. The passage from 16 to 24 teams four years ago in the European Championship has certainly loosened the grip for the contenders for victory who may cross the road of less upscale nations. But the challenge leading to the Henri-Delaunay trophy remains colossal with a plateau of historically high density. You only have to see the identity of the first opponents of the Blues this year to be convinced. Against Germany, on June 15 in Munich, then in Portugal (June 23, Budapest), reigning European champion, France will not be able to afford a delay in the ignition.
Between the two shocks, it will also be necessary to extricate oneself from the trap set by the Hungarians (June 19), far from being the wrath of war (37e world nation) but electrified by 68,000 supporters ready to boil the Puskas Arena. The level displayed by the world champions for three years and a permissive formula (the first two of the group are qualified as well as the best third) put them a priori safe from an industrial accident and elimination in the first round. .
A frightening potential
Better, the men of Didier Deschamps start this Euro in the skin of the favorite according to the bookmakers. The surprise return of Karim Benzema and the new fiery trio he forms with Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé have further boosted the odds of the Blues. Beyond a frightening offensive potential, the thickness, the talent and the experience of a French group without apparent weakness impress.
“France could make an A team, a B team and a C team. They have to win. Otherwise, it will be a failed Euro ”, announces José Mourinho, paid a small fortune by the tabloid The Sun during the tournament to issue such awards. The Portuguese starts off strong. Because many can prevent the Blues from entering the closed circle of triple European champions (after 1984 and 2000). There are, of course, the members of this very select club: the eternal Germany of a Joachim Löw dreaming of an exit through the front door after fifteen years in office, and the player Spain, the only nation that has managed to keep its European title (2008, 2012). A feat that Portugal aims for the indestructible Cristiano Ronaldo (36), mood breaker at the Stade de France five years ago.
England, it is betting on its youth (Mount, Rice, Foden, Grealish, Rashford) and on its brilliant striker Harry Kane to do even better than at the 2018 World Cup (semi-final). But a doubt remains across the Channel on the ability of coach Gareth Southgate to lead the English to triumph at Wembley. Roberto Mancini, he seduced all of Italy. Absent from the last World Cup, the Nazionale lives again under his orders (26 games without defeat in the current series) and no one wants to cross his path. No more than that of the formidable Belgian Red Devils (Lukaku, De Bruyne, Hazard).