As the EURO 2012 approaches, Extratime.ie will take an indepth look into each participating team. Damien Byrne looks at the EURO 2012 Group D side France.
France qualified as winners of qualifying Group D. Their group contained Bosnia-Herzegovina, Romania, Albania, Belarus and Luxembourg. France took all six points from both Luxembourg and Albania. Les Blues failed to win either of the games against Belarus, losing one and drawing the other. They took four points from Bosnia-Herzegovina and Romania, their two closest rivals in the group.
France only secured 1st place in the group when they drew with 2nd placed Bosnia on the last day of qualifying in Paris. A late Samir Nasri penalty cancelled out a first half goal from his Manchester City team-mate Edin Dzeko. Karim Benzema and Yoann Gourcuff were joint top scorers for France in Group D, scoring three goals apiece. It was relatively good qualifying from a much changed French set up, averaging 2.1 points a game, and 1.5 goals a game.
Firstly, there is their goalkeeper and Captain, Hugo Lloris.
Lloris has been named as captain for EURO 2012 by manager Laurent Blanc. Lloris has played 31 times for France, and is number 1 for French giants Olympique Lyonnais. Lloris made his French debut on 19 November 2008 against Uruguay, after missing out on EURO 2008. Lloris was part of the French squad for the FIFA World Cup in 2010, and played all three group games of France disastrous tournament. He has since nailed down the number one spot, holding off the likes of Marseille number one Steve Mandanda, and newly capped keeper Cedric Carrasso of Bordeaux.
Lloris is also no stranger to winning medals, having won the under 19 championships with France in 2005, Lloris has won Ligue 1 goalkeeper of the year twice.
Bayern Munich winger Frank Ribery has had a big part to play in his club season, and the French will hope he can spur his team on in Poland/Ukraine. The speedy winger has played 57 times for his country.
Ribery made his international debut on 27 May 2006 against Mexico, and was included in the World Cup 2006 squad. Ribery appeared in every game for France, starting six of the seven. Ribery has played for many clubs, but came to prominence playing in Ligue 1 for Marseille. Ribery played 60 games for Marseille and won the Intertoto Cup in 2005. Ribery moved to Bayern and has won two leagues, two cups and a league cup. The winger has a World Cup runner up medal also. Ribery is also having a great season with Bayern this term, and they have reached their second Champions League Final in three years.
Where they are playing, where they are staying
The French team will be based in Donetsk. They will stay and train at the plush Kirsha Training Facility, home to Ukranian giants Shakhtar Donetsk. The training centre was built in 1999, on the Kirsha site that was home to Shakhtar’s training since 1953. There are nine natural grass pitches, and one artificial surface. Three of the pitches have under soil heating, and they are all illuminated.
The centre will be perfect for a team who are preparing for one of the biggest events in their careers. There is one- and two-bed rooms, canteen, gymnasium, consulting room and fully equipped offices of the Medical department in the centre.
On site, there is also a rehabilitation centre for any players who are succumbed to injury.
The first of France’s games is a massive game against England. The game is a 5pm kick off local time and will take place in Donetsk on Monday 11th June. The French will then face the co-hosts Ukraine in Donetsk on June 15th, at 7.45pm. The group stages will be rounded off against Sweden on the 19th of June in Kiev. The French are 8/15 to qualify from the group. If so, they will face either second or first of Group C, depending on their standing.
- When Laurent Blanc took over France, they were at their record lowest in the FIFA world records, at 27th. The French are currently improved with Blanc, at 16th.
- France have a great association with the European Championships and UEFA, having won the European Championships twice, 1984 and 2000. Also the tournament trophy is named after former French football administrator, Henri Delaunay. Former French EURO winner captain Michel Platini is also the UEFA president.
- France are joint second lowest goal conceders out of all the qualifiers with Russia, having only conceded 4 goals. Italy are lowest at 2. France also scored the second least amount of goals, at 15. Greece only netted 14.
France have won three of their last five games. Victories against Germany and USA in friendlies, and Albania in qualifying alongside a friendly draw with Belgium and a qualifying draw with Bosnia.
Friendly- Feb 29 – Germany 1-2 France (Giroud, Malouda) Weserstadion, Germany
Friendly- Nov 15 – France 0-0 Belgium Stade De France
Friendly- Nov 11 – France 1-0 USA (Remy) Stade De France
Qualifiers- Oct 11 – France 1-1 Bosnia (Nasri) Stade De France
Qualifiers- Oct 7- France 3-0 Albania (Malouda, Remy, Reveillere) Stade De France
Damien Byrne joined the Extratime.ie team for the 2012 season. He is a Dublin based freelance reporter who is partial to a Friday in Richmond Park, and can be contacted at email@example.com or on twitter at @damienbyrne92