France's form backs them to be champions at Euro 2016

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With France having won the last two major tournaments they have hosted; the World Cup in 1998 and European Championships in 1984, on top of the fact that they possess one of the strongest squads at this year's tournament, it is clear to see why they are favourites.

However, Les Bleus have not played a competitive fixture since they were knocked out the World Cup in Brazil by eventual winners Germany, losing 1-0 in the quarter-finals. But, what should we expect of the biggest teams at Euro 2016, based on their form in recent friendly fixtures?

Since qualification for the European Championships was completed at the back end of last year, the teams have been preparing themselves for this moment, with numerous friendlies taking place in 2016, and here is what to expect from this tournament's top teams.


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Didier Deschamps will be glad to see the back of international friendlies; having played a lot of meaningless football since the World Cup, almost two years ago. They have been waiting a long time for this moment, having automatically qualified as the host nation, and go into the tournament on a fine run of form.

Three of their last six friendlies were against top opposition, in England, Germany and Holland, recording just one defeat, in a 2-0 loss at Wembley, back in November. A narrow 3-2 victory away to Holland and 2-0 home win against Germany were both aided by a goal from Olivier Giroud in each fixture.

Les Bleus netted 10 times in their last three friendlies, ahead of the tournament, with Giroud netting three in that time, and concluding their warm-up for Euro 2016 with a comfortable 3-0 success over Scotland.

Deschamps' men came away victorious in all of their home matches, since qualification for this month's tournament was completed, and were only denied a 100% record, since a 1-0 defeat away to Albania last June, by Roy Hodgson's England.

Although they may only be friendlies, it's pretty simple to see why the host nation are favourites for this tournament. It is also worth noting that Portugal are the only host nation to ever have reached the final of the European Championships and lost, which will be a big boost for France.


However, while France's recent form backs up their status as favourites, for Joachim Low's Germany, the story is a little different.

Three defeats from five friendlies doesn't do much to send a warning to their opponents Northern Ireland, Poland and Ukraine, in the group stages. A 2-0 defeat away to France was followed by a 3-2 home defeat to fierce rivals England. But while things did get better for Die Mannschaft, securing a comfortable 4-1 victory over Italy, they were again undone by minnows Slovakia, in a 3-1 home defeat.

All in all, things haven't gone so smoothly for Low, who had hoped to continue their fine form following their World Cup triumph through into their preparation for the European Championships. However, 11 goals in their last four matches proves that they will be a big threat in front of goal, this summer.

Despite their stuttering form of late, every team will be taking this side seriously, considering the strength in depth they have all across the park.


La Roja are looking to make history by winning the Euros for the third consecutive tournament, but head to France on the back of a dismal display, as champions, at the World Cup in Brazil, two years ago.

But despite their shocking group stage exit in south America, they have lost just once during their recent friendlies,with an unexpected 1-0 home loss to Georgia on Tuesday. While two draws, away to Italy and Romania, are the only other blemishes on an, otherwise, promising record.

A recent 6-1 thrashing of South Korea reminded the rest of Europe, and the Asian side, just how prolific they can be in front of goal; without needing to call upon Fernando Torres. 

Vicente del Bosque will, however, have been extremely satisfied with his team's 2-0 home success over England, back in November.

Spain may not be the favourites for this tournament, but they will head north of the border with something to prove. And no one will be writing the Spaniards off, either.


Antonio Conte's Italy are not necessarily the side fans will be shouting about this summer, but, nonetheless, they should not be written off.

For Italy, their form doesn't back them to go on an take the tournament from their neighbour's, who already have an eye on the silverware, as the continent's favourites.

Luckily for Conte, they come into the tournament on the back of two victories at home to Scotland and Finland. But it is far from the level of opponent the Italians will need to beating, if they are to stand a chance of winning the Euros.

They may be unbeaten at home, since qualifying, but it's how they can do in their neighbour's back garden that ultimately counts. 4-1 and 3-1 defeats away to Germany and Belgium respectively, along with a 2-2 home draw against Romania do not make for good reading, but they have enough quality, in some parts of the pitch, to spring a surprise this summer.


The Red Devils will not be the glamour side in France this tournament, with all but one of their victories coming with a one-goal margin. However, a 2-1 loss away to Portugal is the only blemish on an impress record for Marc Wilmots men.

A 1-1 draw at home to Finland at the beginning of the month was the only other time Belgium failed to secure victory in their recent friendlies. Three wins, a draw and one loss don't make for bad reading, as the Belgians hope to surprise the rest of Europe at this summer's championships.


But it certainly won't just be Belgium who hope to use their 'outsiders' tag to their advantage. The Three Lions were the only side to win all their games in qualifying, but they know the real hard work begins now.

It has been all or nothing for Hodgson's men in their recent friendlies, winning five of their seven fixtures, losing just twice, away to Spain and at home to Holland, in March.

England go into the tournament on the back of three home victories, beating Turkey at the Etihad and Australia at the Stadium of Light, before returning to their natural home, Wembley, to see off Portugal in a narrow 1-0 victory.

Australia, 59th, were the lowest-ranked side the Three Lions faced in their friendly fixtures played since completing their Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, while also playing three of the top ten ranked sides in the current FIFA rankings.

It has been a promising set of results for Hodgson, in their recent friendlies, making up for some rather underwhelming opponents during qualifying.

A young, talented crop of players will hope to recreate their club form for their country this summer, and it would be wrong for any of the other nations to dismiss England's chances.

However, the overriding feeling, heading into the tournament, is that France's form, since the World Cup, seems to suggest that they are rightly favourites. But, perhaps, Les Bleus closest challengers may not be Germany, as we would naturally expect of current world champions.

Can these nations' form, in recent friendlies, be a good indicator about how they will do at Euro 2016? Have your say in the comment box below.

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