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Last world Cup: Group stage
Nickname: “Les Bleus”
Coach: Didier Deschamps
Star man: Franck Ribery
Tournament best: Winners 1998

Scraped through qualifying after coming from 2-0 down in the first play-off leg to beat Ukraine. In Ribery they possess a world-class wide man while the likes of Yohan Cabaye and Mathieu Valbuena offer additional quality in midfield.

Strengths: They may have needed a play-off to qualify but France are still a force to be reckoned with. One of just four sides in the finals not to have dropped any points from winning positions, they also scored almost a quarter of their goals from outside the box: a greater proportion than all but two qualifying nations. Their defence conceded the fifth lowest share of goals from inside the six yard box, suggesting an organised back line.

Weaknesses: The French attack can be inconsistent however: half their matches saw three or more goals scored but they failed to find the net in almost a third. They also tended to start matches slowly, with few goals coming early on, and few goals were dispatched from close range or aerially, potentially denying them a more pragmatic option against stubborn defences.

Prospects: Switzerland's defence certainly fits the definition of stubborn, conceding in only three of their ten qualifiers, and could well frustrate the French. Their other two opponents should prove less problematic, although Ecuador's direct approach will test their defensive organisation.

 

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