Over the course of the past decade or so, French football has fallen from being a powerhouse in the European game.
Despite reaching the final of the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, there has been nothing more to show that French football is growing.
Zidane, Henry, Viera, Deschamps, Platini and Desailly are a few of the greatest ever French footballers to play for Les Bleus. It’s because of these names, football supporters subconsciously assume that the French are still a powerhouse in the world.
But recently, there's been a slide.
When looking at the current French squad, it is almost fair to assume that the team should be in the top 10 of the FIFA rankings, and not struggling to keep afloat at 18.
The side has stability in defence, pace and precision in the midfield and plenty of poachers to choose from in attack. The players in the side have done marvellously in their respective domestic leagues - Ribery, a treble winner with Bayern Munich, Benzema, a 2011/12 league winner with Real Madrid and a constant sight in the starting 11 in the Champions League and Matuidi, a Ligue 1 winner with PSG as recently as this past season.
There is no doubt that the French side has depth, quality and experience but the results over the past few years have done nothing more than contradict the team on paper, as a whole.
There are many moments that can be criticised for being the catalyst of France’s slip up – Thierry Henry’s hand ball against Ireland in the 2010 World Cup qualifying play-off, the implosion of the squad at the World Cup at itself, the sacking of Raymond Domenech, or perhaps the sacking of Laurent Blanc after Euro 2012 which could have killed off any sort of consistency the squad needed.
There are many factors which can be identified for France’s struggle on the international stage. Huge players such as Samir Nasri and Jeremy Toulalan have only gotten better with age, yet still they can’t find their way into Didier Deschamps squad. And with the questionable two year suspension of Yann M’Vila, it’s as though the French Football Federation is shooting themselves in the foot.
However, there is hope in the form of the future. The youth that is coming out of France is something more than optimistic and Deschamps has been quick to identify that. Names such as Raphaël Varane, Paul Pogba, Florian Thauvin and Joshua Guilavogui are players that can bring a better stability when it comes to the team’s defence.
But also can provide a cutting edge in terms of pace, and also finally experience because the players compete in top European club sides, or are wanted by bigger clubs across Europe.
Another aspect to highlight is the money that is being pumped into French football. Both PSG and recently Monaco have begun to splash the cash and create sides that are worthy of one day being called European Champions.
And for French footballers, it’s an amazing opportunity to be teammates with some of the best players in the world, and for other clubs the opportunity to play against these players will only increase their standard regarding training and preparation.
There is no doubt that French football is in a rebuilding phase and although the national team has gone through a lot in the past few years, it’s exciting to see the quality that is coming out of France and how that quality has the potential to transform French football into force to be reckoned with once more.
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