The hosts of the 2019 World Cup have seemed to be on the precipice of greatness for a few years, but they frequently flatter to deceive in big tournaments. This year promises to be different. In front of home crowds in Paris, Nice, and Rennes, and with a good mixture of established stars and promising, young players, the time could be right for France to finally win a big tournament.
Top to bottom, France is one of the most talented teams in the world. Their weakest position is goalkeeper, as incumbent Sarah Bouhaddi is one of the most error prone goalkeepers in the game today. It’s a wonder, and perhaps an indictment, that another goalkeeper hasn’t been able to unseat her. France’s fullbacks are a weakness too, with the players behind Amel Majri, who herself is a converted midfielder, are players like Sakina Karchaoui and Marion Torrent, who have not impressed on the national stage. In the middle is Eve Perisset, who you might remember was sent off in France’s Euro 2017 group stage match against Switzerland. She’s seemed to be on the edge of breaking out for the past couple of years, and this may be the tournament for her to do it. France’s attackers and midfield are solid and deep, with the former being led by the aforementioned Le Sommer, and the latter led by Amandine Henry.
How They’ve Fared
This is France’s fifth World Cup, and their best finish is fourth (2011).
How They Qualified
As hosts, France received an automatic berth.
Player You Know
Long a part of Lyon’s Ligue 1 dominance, Eugenie Le Sommer is a French talisman. She has scored 74 goals in 159 national team appearances, including 11 World Cup goals. This past March, she scored her 39th Champions League goal, putting her in eighth place all time, and 12 from first place overall. Simply put, she’s one of the best on Earth.
Player You’ll Know Soon
With seven goals in each of the last two seasons for Lyon, 22-year-old Delphine Cascarino has a bright future ahead of her. The skillful and attack-minded player is relatively inexperienced at a full national team level, with just 11 caps, but she has 12 goals at youth World Cups, and looks to get a good chunk of playing time this summer.
World Cup Outlook
France should, and probably will win their group. Nigeria is a bit of a wild card, and Norway is not nearly as good as they’ve once been, and South Korea is a good distance from being good enough. France should be disappointed with anything short of a semifinal berth, and I would be extremely surprised if they get knocked out before that.