Euro 2012 team preview: France

France
Population: 65.3 M.
Capital: Paris.
FA foundation: 1919.
Affiliation to FIFA: 1907.
Affiliation to UEFA: 1954.
Head Coach: Laurent Blanc.







Two years after reaching World Cup semi-finals in Sweden, France hosted the first European championship finals after 8-2 and 9-4 aggregate wins over Greece and Austria respectively.

Raymond Kopa and co couldn’t win the semifinal at Parc des Princes stadium in Paris as they lost 4-5 to Yugoslavia, before losing again to Czechoslovakia in the third place play off.

The blues had an impressive start for their Euro 1964 qualification campaign thrashing England 5-2 in Paris after a 1-1 first leg draw.

Then France overcame Bulgaria 3-2 on aggregate before a 2-5 aggregate defeat to Hungary in quarterfinals.

ABSENT FROM THE FINALS

France failed again to reach the semis after losing 2-6 on aggregate to Yugoslavia before topping a group that included Belgium.

During the 1970s, France continued to be absent from the finals finishing third behind Hungary and Bulgaria in 1972 qualification, and getting the same result behind Belgium and East Germany in the road to 1976 edition.

The emergence of Michel Platini didn’t secure a place for France in the 1980 finals as they trailed behind title holders Czechoslovakia.

France hosted the tournament for the second time in 1984, only two years after reaching World Cup semifinals thanks to a team that enjoyed one of the best ever midfield lines.

The hosts defeated Denmark 1-0 in the opener and thrashed Belgium 5-0 before collecting maximum points with a 3-2 victory over Yugoslavia.

France then overcame Portugal in unforgettable semifinal in Marseilles winning 3-2 in the final minute of extra time.

Platini and co lifted the trophy after a 2-0 win over neighbors France in Paris as Coach Michel Hidalgo guided his country to their first major title.

TITLE LOST

France failed to defend their title under coach Henri Michel as they finished third in their Euro 1988 qualification group behind USSR and East Germany.

Things became a bit better when Platini took over as coach guiding the blues to Euro 1992 finals at the expense of Spain and Czechoslovakia.

Nevertheless, France had a poor showing ended in a first round exit after drawing with Sweden and England and losing to eventual champions Denmark.

The failure to reach the 1994 World Cup finals led to radical changes in French football as Aime Jacquet was appointed coach and midfield duo Didier Deschamps and Zinedine Zidane were given pivotal roles.

IMPROVED PERFORMANCE AGAINST NETHERLANDS

France reached the finals of Euro 1996 as runners-up to Romania, the same team they defeated 1-0 in their first group match in England.

France then drew 1-1 with Spain and defeated Bulgaria 3-1 to win the group and meet the Netherlands in quarterfinals.

The blues won on penalties after an exhausting 0-0 draw that lasted for 120 minutes, but couldn’t go further than semifinals as they lost to the Czech Republic in the penalty shootout.

France arrived went to Euro 2000 after being crowned world champions for the first time and edging Russia and Ukraine in the qualifiers.

Coach Roger Lemerre guided his team to an impressive 3-0 win over Denmark and a 2-1 victory over the Czechs before his substitutes lost 2-3 to the Netherlands.

Zidane scored a beautiful free kick to guide his teammates to a 2-1 win over Spain, and then France came from a goal down to beat Portugal 2-1 in extra.

France was 0-1 down to Italy in the final in Rotterdam until the 93rd minute when substitute Sylvain Wiltord scored the equalizer to force extra time.

David Trezeguet scored the golden goal as France lifted the trophy for the second time and 16 years after their triumph on home soil.

Coach Jacques Santini led France to a comfortable place in Euro 2004 after the blues topped their group ahead of Slovenia.

Zidane bagged a brace in the final minute to overcome a 0-1 deficit to England as the title holders looked red hot in their first game in Portugal.

A 2-2 draw with Croatia followed by a 3-1 win over Switzerland gave France a quarterfinal berth where they met surprise package Greece.

Angelos Charisteas scored the only goal of the game as Zizou and co went back to Paris.

A tough qualification group for Euro 2008 saw France finish in second place behind world champions Italy and ahead of Scotland and Ukraine.

The blues had poor showing in the finals drawing 0-0 with Romania before being thrashed 1-4 by the Netherlands.

Coach Raymon Domenech needed a win over Italy in their final group game but had Eric Abidal sent off early and star Franck Ribery withdrew for injury as the Azzurri won 2-0 to hand France a first round exit for the first time since 1992.