Since the 2006 World Cup and the departure of Zinedine Zidane, the French national team has never really been able to compete on an equal footing with the biggest teams in Europe and the World - with a particular low point in South Africa in 2010 when they went on strik - but they now seem to be back on track to recover their former glory under Didier Deschamps.
Their recent win against the Netherlands, who came back from disappointing Euros to qualify for the World Cup undefeated, has put the icing on the cake as France restricted them to only one shot on target to their five with Robin van Persie failing to beat Hugo Lloris on that occasion.
Naturally this was only a friendly and the Dutch weren’t playing a team at full strength, but then neither were the French who had even handed a debut to Antoine Griezmann. The Real Sociedad attacker performed well and France left Franck Ribery on the bench until the 63rd minute.
The area where the French have most improved is their attack which for a while seemed incapable of scoring a goal, even against the lesser teams. But Karim Benzema has now got back on the scoresheet more regularly for the national team and Ribery has profited from his time at Bayern Munich to make himself one of the best players in the world, not just for his club but also his country
They also have a settled midfield full of players such as Yohan Cabaye and Blaise Matuidi, whose mutual understanding can only get better as they play together at Paris Saint-Germain and also a solid defence comprising of promising talents such as Eliaquim Mangala and Raphael Varane. Older players like Mathieu Debuchy and Patrice Evra provide the experience necessary to any successful international team
Even the spirit of the team is much improved as they have gone from a group of players who were prepared to give up their World Cup prospects to protest against the manager last time round, to one who is able to break a record and come back from two goals down in the play offs to reach the World Cup group stages against Ukraine.
It is of course very unlikely that they can win the World Cup or even reach the final, but the signs do bode well for France who could be a team to watch in the quarter-finals as the luck of the draw has given them a group they should have no problem progressing from.
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