Even though Didier Deschamps' France started the 2016 edition of the European Championships as strong title contenders, the hosts were upstaged by Cristiano Ronaldo's Portugal in the summit clash of the UEFA Euro at the Stade de France. Since then, Deschamps has made sure that France dish out clinical performances in marquee clashes, and the 2018 FIFA World Cup-winning campaign of Les Blues in Russia is a testament to the same.
Among the 24 participants, France's insane squad depth makes them early favourites in the 16th edition of the European Championship. Regarded as the darlings of the European Championships, Deschamps-coached France had raised several eyebrows while announcing their final squad for the upcoming edition of the UEFA Euro. Deschamps came up with a masterstroke by recalling one of the most prolific French goal-scorers in the modern era of the beautiful game.
Key players at UEFA Euro 2020:
Real Madrid superstar and veteran striker Karim Benzema has made a shocking return to the France national side for the UEFA Euro 2020. Benzema, who has led Real Madrid's attack from the front in post-Ronaldo era, has enjoyed a couple of fruitful seasons across all competitions following the departure of Portugal captain.
An in-form Benzema is expected to form a successful partnership with star striker Kylian Mbappe. The Paris Saint Germain (PSG) star is an automatic contender for the Golden Boot at the Euro 2020. Besides Mbappe, Barcelona's Antoine Griezmann and 2021 Champions League winner N'Golo Kanté are tipped to help Deschamps in forming the winning formation at the Euro 2020.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur); Mike Maignan (Lille); Steve Mandanda (Marseille)
Defenders: Lucas Digne (Everton); Leo Dubois (Olympique Lyonnais); Lucas Hernandez (Bayern Munich); Presnel Kimpembe (Paris St Germain); Jules Kounde (Sevilla); Clement Lenglet (Barcelona); Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich); Raphael Varane (Real Madrid); Kurt Zouma (Chelsea)
Midfielders: N'golo Kante (Chelsea); Thomas Lemar (Atletico Madrid); Paul Pogba (Manchester United); Adrien Rabiot (Juventus); Moussa Sissoko (Tottenham Hotspur); Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich)
Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder (Monaco); Karim Benzema (Real Madrid); Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich); Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona); Olivier Giroud (Chelsea); Antoine Griezmann (Barcelona); Kylian Mbappe (Paris St Germain); Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach).
France's Euro 2020 group stage schedule:
France's Euro 2020 pedigree will be tested by the likes of defending champions Portugal and title contenders Germany as the 2018 World Cup winners are drawn in the Group of Death at the Euro 2020. France will kickstart their campaign against former champions Germany on Wednesday and Les Blues will play their final Group F game on June 24 when they lock horns with Portugal in the rematch of the 2016 Euro final.
Wednesday 16 June 2021: France vs Germany (12.30 AM IST)
Saturday 19 June 2021: Hungary vs France (6.30 PM IST)
Thursday 24 June 2021: Portugal vs France (12.30 AM IST)
Strongest starting XI
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris (C)
Defenders: Lucas Hernandez, Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Clement Lenglet
Midfielders: N'golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Adrien Rabiot, Antoine Griezmann
Forwards: Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe
France have played nine final tournaments and Les Blues have managed to win the European title in 1984 and 2000. After clinching the 1998 World Cup, Zinedine Zidane's France were crowned European champions two years later. David Trezeguet had scored the match-winning half-volley in the 2000 final between Italy and France. This will be the first time when France will enter the UEFA Euro as the reigning world champions since 2000.