France go into their opening group fixture against England on the back of a 21-match unbeaten run.
This run has emphasised the togetherness and team spirit which Laurent Blanc has attempted to instil in the squad after the embarrassment of the 2012 World Cup in South Africa.
Going forward, France pose a threat. The depth in attack opens a variety of tactical possibilities to Blanc but it is expected that he will continue playing with Karim Benzema as the lone striker whilst being fed chances from the likes of Franck Ribery and Samir Nasri.
Midfield is another area of strength for France, though highly rated Rennes midfielder Yann M’Vila is set to miss out after picking up an injury in France’s 2-0 friendly win over Serbia last week.
It is expected that Newcastle United midfielder Yohan Cabaye will start the fixture, hoping to continue his fine form from an impressive first season in the Premier League. Club colleague Hatem Ben Arfa may appear from the bench.
In defence is where France’s problems may occur in this match. Philippe Mexes has looked out of sorts in the friendly matches leading up to the tournament after having returned from a lengthy spell on the sidelines.
France physio Fabrice Bryand has said the Milan defender has looked to build his muscle mass but concedes that this made the player heavier in the process. England’s quick forward line could, therefore, pose problems at times.
Patrice Evra looked absent in the 3-2 win over Iceland in France’s first friendly in the build-up to the tournament. However, his familiarity with the England players may be useful in this opening fixture.
At the other side of the defence, all eyes will be on Lille’s Mathieu Debuchy – recently linked with clubs such as Manchester United, Newcastle United and Inter Milan.
Olivier Giroud, fresh from helping Montpellier to their first Ligue 1 title with 21 goals last season, will be a threat from the bench if called upon. His presence ensures that group favourites France remain a threat not only in the opening fixture but throughout the competition.
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