France : Greatest XI

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Football was not as popular in France as it is today, until it received a major boost in the form of the 1998 World Cup win on home soil.

From that time on, the country that gave to the world the likes of Platini, Zidane, Fontaine, Kopa, Cantona and Pires, started to take the beautiful game a little more seriously.

Let's see who would be featured in their all-time XI, from the great French generation of the '50s, Platini's France of the '80s, the '98 world champions and the '06 finalists.

Formation : 4-2-2-2

Goalkeeper : Fabien Barthez

Not so much of a legendary goalkeeper, but he certainly had his moments. Most of them come while guarding the post of Les Blues. He put his best possible performances in both the '98 World Cup and '00 Euro.

Right-Back : Lilian Thuram

Thuram is one of the finest defenders of his generation. He had everything a modern right-back needs - powerful body, boundless stamina, speed and accurate feet. And unlike most of today's attacking side-backs, he was a great defender. He is the player with the most caps won for the French, making a huge 142.

Centre-Back : Marcel Desailly

He was a perfect athletic defender and often a defensive midfielder. He used his physique and technique to intimidate all of the opposition's players who dared to face him. He was always great for his country, playing a crucial part in the 1998 World Cup win.

Centre-Back : Laurent Blanc

Another player with wise-inducing physique, Blanc provided for Les Blues with his leadership skills and great defensive awarness. He won 97 caps for his country, being the captain in many of them.

Left-Back : Bixente Lizarazu

Just slightly, but better than Patrice Evra. Lizarazu was always in a great form throughout his career - and he was always a contributor for his national team, with his endless runs up and down the flank.

Defensive-Midfielder : Cloude Makelele

Makelele had the talent of breaking up attacks in front of the defence with the sort of effortlessness, that made people think he wasn't really doing much of anything. He was so underrated during his career, that later after his retirement it led to a fuss that made him being slightly overrated. Still, a great midfielder and an undoubtable pick.

Defensive-Midfielder : Patrick Vieira 

The Senegal-born midfielder was one of the most important players of Les Blues in the Euro 2000 and Wolrd Cup of 1998. Armed with a marvellous body and great athletic skills, he was a magisterial presence and he covered huge distances, stealing the ball and then rushing forward to lead the counter-attack. He was rare a defensive midfielder who just had it all.

Attacking-Midfielder : Michel Platini

The current UEFA president was an amazing passer, a free-kick specialist and he won the Ballon d'Or three consecutive times, which made people consider him as one of the best playmakers in football history.

 Le Roi (the king) had the ability to time a pass hardly equaled before, or since. He was the outstanding star and captain of France in the 1984 European championship win. 

Attacking-Midfielder : Zinedine Zidane

'Zizou' is the most important contributor for France's national football team. He gave the trophy to Les Blues in the 1998 World Cup with his goals and as a 36-year-old, he single-handedly led his country to the 2006 World Cup final. His name stands synonymous with football excellence and greatness.

He had a phenomenal ability to create attacks from seemingly nothing situations and he is unmatched by perhaps no player in history when it comes to sheer control over the ball. He was a player that could, in a moment, just with one brilliant touch, change the fate of any game.

Centre-Forward : Eric Cantona

For his country.... well he didn't really do much of anything.  Regarding talent and individual greatness though, there is no question that the much-loved Eric Cantona deserves a spot on this squad. 

Throughout his career Cantona won trophies with his crucial, often genius, match-deciding goals. He had a great technique, vision and goalscoring ability, but most of all he was a footballing idol, as a whole generation of boys in Europe grew up putting their collar up, just because it was Cantona's cool signature.

Centre-Forward : Thierry Henry

Probably the best forward to ever play in the Premier League, Henry was also phenomenal with his nation.

He used his blistering pace and superb skill to slice open defences by himself and coolly slot home the finish. During his best days at Arsenal he might had been the best player in the world, as the Frenchman was just plainly unstoppable.  He is the all-time top scorer for France, with 51 goals.

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