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Netherlands national football team
European Championship | Group Stage
Jun 21, 2024 at 8pm UK
Red Bull Arena
France national football team

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Euro 2024 favourites: France, Deschamps should be tipped to win ahead of England

England vs. France: Who has the edge in Euro 2024 favourite stakes?
© Imago
Sports Mole looks at why France should be regarded as clear favourites to win Euro 2024 ahead of the likes of England.

As France prepare to face the Netherlands in their second group game at Euro 2024 on Friday night, some have questioned their credentials as tournament favourites given their lacklustre display against Austria in their opening match on Monday.

However, their ability to overcome adversity and the incredible individual talent at their disposal makes France clear favourites, even ahead of the likes of England.

Indeed, over the course of his 12-year spell in charge of the national team, Didier Deschamps has endured similar criticisms to his English counterpart Gareth Southgate, most notably in regard to perceived tactical deficiencies that have led to his side relying on individual moments to overcome their opponents.

However, Deschamps has proven that he is able to set his team up in a manner that gets the most out of star players like Kylian Mbappe, Theo Hernandez and N'Golo Kante, who all performed exceptionally well against Ralf Rangnick's high-pressing Austria.

It is this ability to maximise players that makes France stand out from the rest, as while opponents may have periods of threatening play against Les Bleus, it is incredibly difficult to stifle Deschamps's side for an entire game.

In the knockout rounds of the tournament, this could be vital to advancing into the latter stages and could separate France from the likes of England and Portugal, who despite boasting talented squads have so far struggled to get the best out of their stars.

Struggles against Austria

France forward Kylian Mbappe after suffering broken nose against Austria on June 17, 2024.© Reuters

Monday night's 1-0 victory against Austria was at times uncomfortable for France, particularly when Rangnick's side would press them intensely during early buildup phases.

In fact, Austria were able to cause five high turnovers of possession compared to Les Bleus' two and in the second half they also had 57% possession.

Ahead of their clash against the Netherlands, this performance has led some to doubt the World Cup finalists' chances of winning Euro 2024, with some commentators highlighting their supposed inability to dominate opponents as a reason to downplay their prospects.

Kylian Mbappe and Theo Hernandez's blossoming relationship

France's Kylian Mbappe and Theo Hernandez in action at Euro 2024 [IMAGO]© Imago

Though France's showing on Monday was certainly far from ideal there are still elements of their display that they can look to build upon as the tournament progresses.

From an offensive perspective, the performances of Kylian Mbappe and Theo Hernandez were particular high points, with the pair combining and interchanging excellently on the left flank.

Hernandez's athletic and technical capability meant he could both overlap and underlap Mbappe, combining with the winger to escape Austria's aggressive press.

Mbappe's electric pace and explosive movement meant he could synergise with Hernandez by bursting into pockets of space after rotating and alternating positions with the left-back.

The pair could threaten even more on Friday against the Netherlands, especially considering that Ronald Koeman's team do not press as intensely as Rangnick's side, and this could provide them with more space to exploit.

This space was something that Poland failed to take advantage of when they were defeated 2-1 on Sunday.

Although there are legitimate criticisms to be had of manager Deschamps, he should be praised for setting his team up in a way that maximises the dynamics between key players like Mbappe and Hernandez.

At international level, games are often decided by individual moments of brilliance but these moments may not manifest without a balanced and complimentary XI that accommodates player talent, and Deschamps at least deserves credit for allowing the aforementioned pair to shine.

Aurelien Tchouameni and N'Golo Kante could dominate Dutch midfield

France midfielder N'Golo Kante pictured at Euro 2024 [IMAGO]© Imago

France's upcoming clash against dark horses Netherlands will likely be a difficult encounter, but even if Mbappe misses out due to the nose injury he suffered against Austria, France should still have enough talent available to achieve a positive result.

In addition to this, they will still be able to call upon the services of legendary midfielder N'Golo Kante, whose presence was vital against Austria as his ability to cover ground provided attacking players like Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele with an abundance of defensive stability.

Kante's place in the team could be particularly important on Friday as the Netherlands struggled in midfield at times when attempting to resist pressure against Poland, and Kante's ball-winning abilities could be severely disruptive to Koeman's side.

Another reason why France should be considered favourites is that while they did not showcase their best level against Austria, they will be able to call upon the services of Aurelien Tchouameni against the Netherlands and for the remainder of the tournament.

The Real Madrid star excels defensively and is comfortable on the ball when in possession, and regardless of whether he partners Kante or Adrien Rabiot he is sure to provide a much-needed boost to the French.

Indeed, though Kante and Rabiot have admirable qualities neither are pure defensive midfielders, and Tchouameni's potential return to the starting XI on Friday will likely bring more balance to Deschamps's team.

France will hope that Tchouameni's composed and commanding presence will eliminate some of the defensive errors caused by the Austrian pressure on matchday one.

France vs. England: Why Les Bleus have the edge

Gareth Southgate and Didier Deschamps embrace at the 2022 World Cup [IMAGO]© Imago

The importance of having a balanced XI and balanced dynamics between individual players cannot be understated, and this is a major factor as to why France should be seen as championship favourites ahead of England.

For instance, despite not fielding a full-strength side against Austria, Deschamps was still able to cultivate an environment that maximised France's best player, Mbappe.

Contrastingly, in England's two games in Euro 2024 star figures like Harry Kane, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Phil Foden have struggled to impact matches.

Indeed, their performances were so concerning against Denmark on Thursday that all three were subbed off, but despite this the Three Lions did not improve much.

At club level, each of the trio are considered to be world-class players and their lacklustre showings so far highlight Southgate's inability to maximise the talent at his disposal.

The English and French squads are comparable in terms of quality and the teams are arguably the two most talented in the tournament, but modern international football competitions are not always won by the side with the most individual ability.

Argentina's Qatar World Cup winning squad was not necessarily the most talented but they were able to defeat France and others due to the fact manager Lionel Scaloni was able to get the best out of stars like Lionel Messi by fielding a balanced XI.

In regard to Euro 2024, Deschamps's proven track record of creating exciting partnerships between players such as Mbappe and Hernandez, as well as his commitment to maintaining defensive coverage across midfield, should make them favourites to win the tournament in Germany ahead of England.

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Portugal striker Cristiano Ronaldo in action on June 22, 2024 (IMAGO)
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Group A

Q Germany Germany32107
Q Switzerland Switzerland31205
3 Hungary Hungary31023
4 Scotland flag Scotland30121

Group B

Q Spain Spain33009
Q Italy Italy31114
3 Croatia Croatia30212
4 Albania national flag Albania30121

Group C

Q England flag England31205
Q Denmark Denmark30303
Q Slovenia Slovenia30303
4 Serbia Serbia30212

Group D

Q Austria Austria32016
Q France France31205
Q Netherlands Netherlands31114
4 Poland Poland30121

Group E

Q Romania Romania31114
Q Belgium Belgium31114
Q Slovakia Slovakia31114
4 Ukraine Ukraine31114

Group F

Q Portugal Portugal32016
Q Turkey Turkey32016
Q Georgia Georgia31114
4 Czech Republic Czech Republic30121

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