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France are reigning champions at the World Cup, but the European World Cup curse started 20 years ago after they won for the first time. Read on to learn about their history and why this could be a momentous World Cup for France.

How Has France Performed in Previous World Cups?

France are two time World Cup winners and the defending champions going into the 2022 World Cup. The French squad is one of the most highly rated national teams amongst those that have qualified for the competition, and many football fans are tipping them to win the competition for a second time in a row.

France was one of the few European nations to enter the inaugural World Cup in 1930. In that competition, they were knocked out in the group stage, and in the following World Cup, they were also knocked out in the first round. In 1938, the World Cup was held in France, and the team beat Belgium in the first round, reaching the quarterfinals. Here they faced Italy, and were knocked out by the eventual World Cup winners.

France would qualify for the World Cup again in 1954, when the tournament was held in Switzerland, but they failed to make it past the group stage. In 1958, when the World Cup was held in Sweden, France made their best run in the tournament. They topped their group and beat Northern Ireland in the quarterfinals to progress to the semi-finals. Here, they faced Brazil, who beat them in a match that ended 5-2. The French team faced West Germany in the third place playoff, whom they beat 6-3. Finishing third place was a great achievement for the country, but what was even greater was the individual achievement of striker Just Fontaine. The relatively unknown French striker netted 13 goals in that World Cup, setting a record that still stands today.

In 1982, the French team had their next best run. They advanced past both group stages to reach the semi-finals, where they faced West Germany. The Germans won the penalties to advance to the finals, and the French team faced Poland in the third place playoff, who caused a great upset when they beat the French 3-2. In 1986, the French team bounced back and finished second in their group to advance to the knockout stage. Here they beat Italy and Brazil, before losing to West Germany in the semi-finals. They beat Belgium in the third place playoff to clinch their second third place finish.

After failing to qualify for the next two editions of the competition, France returned to the World Cup in 1998 as the hosting nation. This team was one of the best French teams in their history, including players such as captain Didier Deschamps, Marcel Desailly, Zinedine Zidane, Robert Pires, Lilian Thuram, Patrick Vieira, Laurent Blanc and a young Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet. The team topped their group and then went on to beat Paraguay, Italy and Croatia as they reached the finals. Here, they played in the Stade de France in Paris, and faced Brazil. The French team caused a huge upset when they beat Brazil 3-0 to win their first World Cup title.

In 2006, the French team reached the finals again, with Zidane now captaining the team. They faced Italy in the finals and the game went into extra time after the score was level at the end of regular time. This infamous final saw Zidane, who played his last game for France, headbutt Materazzi on the field and receive a red card. The French team would go on to lose the game in the penalty shootout.

In 2018, the French team was managed by former captain Didier Deschamps, and they featured a highly talented squad. Hugo Lloris captained the team from goal, and he played alongside Paul Pogba, Antoin Griezmann, N’Golo Kante, Raphael Varane, Olivier Giroud and the highly rated 19 year old, Kylian Mbappe. The team ploughed through the group stage, and then beat Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium to reach the World Cup finals. The French dominated the game against Croatia, scoring 4 to Croatia’s 2 to win their second World Cup title.

Whilst everything is looking in favour of the reigning champions, there is some cause to worry for the more superstitious fans. Starting with the 2002 World Cup, when France were the reigning champions, all European teams who have won the competition have crashed out in the following World Cup in the group stages. France crashed out in the group stage of the 2002 World Cup. Italy, the 2006 winners were the next as they crashed out in the group stage in 2010. This would happen to the 2010 and 2014 winners Spain and Germany, who both failed to advance past the group stage in the following editions of the World Cup. It can be argued however, that the phenomena began with France and perhaps they are the team that will end the “European World Cup curse”.

France’s Qualification Route to the World Cup

From 1938 until 2002, the defending champions received automatic qualification for the World Cup, but since 2002, the reigning champions have to qualify. This did not bother France as they won 5 of their 8 qualifier games and drew the remaining 3. They topped the group with 18 goals scored across all the matches and they only conceded 3.

France’s Ranking – Staying Amongst the Top

At the beginning of the qualifiers in 2020, France were in second place in the World Rankings. Though they qualified for the World Cup, they crashed out in the round of the last 16 in the European Championship held in 2021 and they also finished last in their group in the UEFA Nations League, pushing their position in the World Rankings from 2nd place to 4th.

Who Could Play in France’s Squad?

The French squad is almost exactly the same as the squad that won the World Cup in 2018. In goal they have long-time captain Hugo Lloris, but they have a couple more top quality choices in Alphonse Areola and Steve Mandanda.

The key players in France’s defence are Raphael Varane, Clement Lenglet, Benjamin Pavard, Presnel Kimpembe, Lucas Digne, Lucas Hernandez and the youngster Jules Kounde.

France have an enviable midfield, with some fantastic selections such as N’golo Kante, Aurelien Tchouameni, and Adrien Rabiot who are more defensive, and Christopher Nkunku, Paul Pogba, Thomas Lemar and Corentin Tolissa who can be deployed in a more attacking role.

Kylian Mbappe is the key man in France’s attack, but in this World Cup Karim Benzema will return to the French squad. The potential Ballon d’Or contender had an exceptional season with Real Madrid and he will definitely bring a lot of experience and strength to the French attack. In addition, they have options such as Antoine Griezmann, Kingsley Coman, Anthony Martial, Olivier Giroud and Wissam Ben Yedder, who are all proven at the top level.

How to Bet on France at the World Cup

If you want to bet on France in the 2022 World Cup, then you have an enormous amount of options. For each match you will be able to find the standard bets such as match winner, Asian handicap, total goals, correct score, winning margin, and so on, and in addition to these bets, you may find numerous game props, player props, combos, bets on halves, corners, goals, and many more.

Golden Boot Bet

The golden boot is awarded to the player with the most goals scored in the World Cup. There will be bets for all the top goal scorers, but for France this may be a tricky bet. Whilst Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann were both tied for the top scoring French player in the previous World Cup, this year may also feature Karim Benzema. Benzema is currently at the peak of his powers after a brilliant season at club level with Real Madrid.

Golden Glove Bet

The golden glove is awarded to the best goalkeeper in the competition. France would not necessarily need to win the World Cup for captain Hugo Lloris to be awarded the golden glove in the same way as he will not automatically be given the golden glove if he wins the competition. Usually this is given to the goalkeeper with the most clean sheets or if a goalkeeper is influential in the success of a team, such as helping the team win a penalty shootout.

Golden Ball Bet

The golden ball is an award that is given to the best overall player in the World Cup. In the French team, this may be difficult to predict as players such as N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba are both hugely important midfield players, but Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe are just as important for the French attack.

Other Bets

In addition to the bets on individual matches, you may also find bets on whether France will top their group, whether they will make it to the knockout stages, whether France will win the World Cup, and so on. 

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