France’s record at the World Cup has been very mixed. The French national team finished third at World Cup 1958 in Sweden. The team featuring Just Fontaine provided France with a golden era that was not repeated until decades later. Michel Platini was the star of the rising French team in the 80s that won the UEFA European Championship in 1984 and was semi finalists at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups in Spain and Mexico respectively. There was another shoter lull but Zinedine Zidane and others, including the current coach Didier Deschamps, made for another golden era that had its climax when winning the World Cup at home in 1998 and the European Championship in 2000. The up and down nature of the team, too often mired in squad controversy and divisions, meant a group stage exit in Wold Cup 2002, followed by a runner up spot in 2006 and another group stage exit in 2010.
The current version of the national team is certainly very talented but that hasn’t always proven to be enough. Below are some of the names that illustrate the depth and the quality of the current crop of French players.
Hugo Lloris Goalkeeper at Tottenham, can make occasional costly mistakes but the team captain is solid.
Alphonse Areola Goalkeeper at PSG, a home grown relative low cost player among the expensive stars assembled in Paris.
Laurent Koscielny Veteran defender at Arsenal, provides leadership.
Raphael Varane Young defender at Real Madrid, had a fast rise to stardom, now considered a solid player.
N’Golo Kante One of the best defensive midfielders of the recent past, virtual unknown until three years ago.
Paul Pogba Most expensive player and arguably most hyped player but having a hard time getting game time at Manchester United this season under Jose Mourinho.
Antoine Griezmann The world class goal scorer opted to stay at Atletico Madrid, more than a few teams willing to pay an enormous sum for him.
Kylian Mbappe Fast rise to stardom at Monaco, left to PSG for an initial loan to be made permanent after the World Cup for €145 million plus €35 million in bonuses and add ons. Still a teenager.
The list doesn’t include Karim Benzema, the sometimes prolific Real Madrid forward, due his ongoing exclusion because of the black mail case involving his national team mate Mathieu Valbuena.