Football News

France Route to the Euro 2024 Final: Potential Opponents For Les Bleus at Euro 2024

By Andy Watson

Published: 17:53, 10 May 2024

As Euro 2024 approaches we take a look at who Les Bleus might face on their route to the European Championships final.

France Route To The Euro 2024 Final: Potential Path

France will be many people’s favourites to win the European Championships for a third time. They actually haven’t won the tournament since David Trezeguet’s Golden Goal sealed the deal in Euro 2000, so this is something of a drought for Les Bleus in this competition. They came very close to winning at Euro 2016, but Eder’s extra time winner gave Portugal their first ever major senior international tournament success.

France qualified for the tournament in facile fashion. A 2-2 draw in Greece was the only blot on an otherwise perfect copybook, with the 14-0 victory over Gibraltar setting a couple of records along the way.

European Championship Qualification – Group B
Position Team Played Won Drawn Lost GF GA Points
1 France 8 7 1 0 29 3 22
2 Netherlands 8 767 0 2 17 7 28
3 Greece 8 4 1 3 14 8 13
4 Rep. of Ireland 8 2 0 6 9 10 6
5 Gibraltar 8 0 0 8 0 41 0

France have played two friendlies since the end of the qualification period, losing 2-0 to Germany and beating Chile 3-2. Neither performance was particularly convincing, and, in typical football, and French, fashion, caused a large degree of criticism and uncertainty.

France’s potential route to Euro 2024 final

France’s Group D fixtures

vs Austria (17 June, 8pm BST) – France have to wait until the fourth evening of action before they can take to the field, against dark horses Austria. The two nations werre in the same Nations League recently, where France emerged victorious at home but only claimed a 1-1 draw in Vienna. France do have the head-to-head advantage over the course of history, but Austria have improved a lot of late.

vs Netherlands (21 June, 8pm BST) – The Netherlands are probably still not back to the peak of their powers, but they are at least now back to qualifying for the major tournaments regularly. Indeed, these two met in the same qualification group for this tournament with France winning home and away matches. In fact, in eight matches in the last decade, France have lost only one.

vs Poland (25 June, 5pm BST) – This is probably France’s easiest task in the group and could determine their route through into the knockout stages. This nations have met just once over the past decade; a 3-1 victory for France at the 2022 World Cup.

If France finish top of group D

If France win Group D, which they are favourites to do, then they will take on the runners-up in Group F. If this group goes to the form book it could be a relatively easy start to the knockouts with the likely opponents being Czechia or Turkey, or perhaps Georgia with Portugal winning that group.

The likelihood then is that there would then be a face-off with the Group E winners in the quarter-finals. The odds suggest that this could be Belgium, potentially Ukraine. There is a chance that France could play one of the 3rd placed teams at this round too, if that team defeated the Group E winners in the round of 16.

The semi-finals would see France take on either the winner of Group C, possibly England, a 3rd placer from groups D/E/F (so potentially a re-match from their own group), or a runner-up from Groups A or B, potentially Switzerland or Spain/Italy/Croatia. France and England met in the World Cup quarter-final after clearing every hurdle to that stage, one mght expect for this to happen again.

France could then reach the final and be up against the winner from the other bracket, potentially Portugal in a repeat of the Euro 2016 final, or Germany, who France have lost to twice in a matter of months.

If France finish runner-up in group D

It would be a slight surprise if France were to only qualify second from their group, they have topped their group in the last four major tournaments.

However, in this case, they would go into the other bracket and start against a fellow runner-up from Group E, possibly Ukraine or Romania.

There would then be a quarter-final which would most likely see Les Bleus take on Portugal if they won Group F. ALternatively it would be a third-placer from Groups A/B/C.

The semi-final could be against Germany or the first placer from Group B, either Spain, Italy or Croatia.

Leaving a final against, if the odds have it right, England, or a rematch against whichever team won France’s group in their stead.

It is probably a trickier route, with Portugal, Germany, and a final to win, but it isn’t an awful one.

If France finish third in Group D

It would be sailing very close to the wind for France to have to rely on third-place qualification, however, we just saw Cote D’Ivoire do just that in the recent AFCON and go on to win.

This route would see France either play the winner of the tough Group B (possibly Spain) or the winner of Group C, likely to be England, or, perhaps Denmark.

A likely quarter-final meeting with Germany likes along the first route, if not Germany, then either England or Denmark, whoever finishes second in their Group C. Having seen off the winner of Group C in the second route, the next match could be Switzerland/Hungary or Spain/Croatia/Italy, whoever emerges from that all runner-up clash.

The first route takes them to a semi-final against, probably, Portugal, whereas the big fish in the other semi-final would be Belgium or whoever topped France’s group.

It is a complocated route guaranteed to pit France against group winners, best avoided.

France’s Reasons for Optimism

On the face of it, there is plenty of cause for optimism for a French fan. Their nation continues to churn out top quality players by the bucketful. They are the highest ranked nation in the tournament, and have recent tournament winning pedigree from the 2018 World Cup, not to mention a great defence of that title by reaching the final in Qatar.

France’s squad has that experience, even the relatively young players can carry that level of experience with them, but they also have great strength in depth, in pretty much every position. They also carry potentially the world’s best current player in Kylian Mbappe, who averaged better than a goal a game in qualification, a couple of Champions League finalists in Aurelien Tchouameni and Eduardo Camavinga, and former Golden Boot winners Olivier Giroud, and Antoine Griezmann.

The route to the final, as just outlined above, also took amenable, even if Les Bleus finish second in the group, which seems unlikely.

France’s Potential Roadblocks

The biggest roadblock to France might actually be England. If the nations top their groups then they are on a semi-final collision course. It was a tight and tense quarter-final between the pair in Qatar, and there is a lot of recent history in major tournaments between the nations, which, in all honesty, France have seen the better of.

There is still widespread opposition to coach Didier Deschamps, despite his period of consistent success as head coach, and incredible contribution as player and captain as well. However, many French supporters believe that the team win in spite of Deschamps’ suffocating tactics instead of because of them.

Didier Deschamps Tactical Insights

Deschamps’ tactical style can be a little bit safe in many observers’ eyes. It is clear that France have immense talent, the complaint is that Deschamps rarely lets off the handbrake.

However, Deschamps knows better than anyone that tournament football is more often won by the teams that give up very little, rather than the entertainers. It may not be the most romantic view of football, and not what the neutral might want to see, but the pragmatist knows the merit of Deschamps’ work and the results tend to speak for themselves.

Deschamps will play a pretty standard 4-2-3-1. The double-pivot of the Real Madrid pair of Tchouameni and Camavinga is as athletic as they come and will provide a solid base. The full-backs are generally more solid defensively, with Jules Kounde able to come narrow to create a back three to allow Theo Hernandez to push on as an attacking outlet on the left.

This allows Kylian Mbappe to roam wherever he wants, and with Olivier Giroud, yes he is still around, to work off as a very effective target man, Mbappe, Griezmann, and Ousmane Dembele can wreak havoc on their own.

Just in case that lot weren’t enough, Randal Kolo Muani, Moussa Diaby, Marcus Thuram, and Kingsley Coman are waiting to come on and change the game. Young talent Warren Zaire-Emery is also pressing for inclusion in the midfield.

Fan and Media Perspectives

There is always an expectation for the modern-day French team to win the tournament. Whilst these are big expectations to have, the talent and history is there to back up those thoughts. The French media is certainly there to big up the team, whilst also ready to criticise the coaching staff at a moment’s notice.

It is not the easiest group to traverse for France, and a couple of early shocks would really allow the public to turn on Deschamps, but the likelihood is that Les Bleus will march deep into the tournament, and by the time of a potential semi-final with England, the public will be right behind them.