The favorite before the tournament begins is understandably the host nation, France. This makes perfect sense as soon as you look at their squad., At the 2014 World Cup, Les Bleus narrowly lost 1-0 in the quarter-finals to Germany, the eventual champions. But now they can go three players deep at any position!
Led by superstar Paul Pogba, the French also have forward Antoine Griezmann firing on all cylinders, a world class goalkeeper in Hugo Lloris, and a solid defense. Talent and ability are certainly not the issue.
The only potential weakness is the absence of Karim Benzema. His bizarre suspension leaves Les Bleus without a classic number 9, at least not one with any international experience. Unless the manager places his faith in Olivier Giroud. And we all know how that could turn out.
Andre-Pierre Gignac is another option to spearhead the attack. But, at age 30, he has no experience at a major tournament. Cue twenty-year-old Anthony Martial’s entrance. France may as well use the young live wire as their scoring threat. He doesn’t have much experience either but the bright lights of Old Trafford have surely taught him a thing or two about expectations and pressure.
Didier Deschamps is tasked with managing the two-time European champions, no easy feat if recent tournaments are any indication. Mutiny and miserable performances ruined the 2010 World Cup and 2012 Euros for the French
And Deschamps, the former Chelsea and Juventus midfielder, would love nothing more than to help his countrymen forget that those competitions ever took place.
The best way to do that is to bring home France’s third Henry Delaunay Trophy, on home soil. Allez les Bleus, anyone?