Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Can France win the 2012 European Championship?

France have a proud record in the European Championships having won two Euros in 1984 and 2000.

Two years prior to their Euro 2000 success, France managed to win the most prestigious football event, the 1998 World Cup, on home soil.

Things then took a downturn, with disappointing 2002 World Cup and Euro 2004 campaigns, but a Zinedine Zidane inspired run to the 2006 World Cup final proved the country still had vast resources of footballing talent to choose from.

Zidane aside, the nation has provided football fans around the world with plenty of awe-inspiring players. One legend that springs to mind is Arsenal’s former hit man - and France’s highest ever goal scorer - Thierry Henry.

The 34-year-old is currently contracted to the New York Red Bulls in Major League Soccer. The skillful forward had a brief loan spell at his former club, the Gunners, for two months during the MLS off-season. Henry certainly proved to the Arsenal fans that he has still got what it takes when it comes to scoring goals having scored two goals in seven appearances – both of them winners.

Another prolific player that France produced is the Manchester United legend Eric Cantona. The charismatic, enigmatic striker was a key figurehead in the Red Devils’ successes during the Frenchman’s time at the prestigious Manchester club. In France, Cantona isn’t as hailed as he is in England, but after scoring 20 goals in 45 appearances for his country it’s hard to understand why he’s not.

Looking at the current French national team, credit has to go to coach Laurent Blanc for the way he has re-built the team and turned their results and scores around after their disastrous World Cup campaign. Les Bleus crashed out at the group stages in South Africa amid a backdrop of internal feuding between players, coaching staff and the authorities. They qualifier for this summer’s competition with ease while friendly wins over England, Brazil and Germany highlight just how far Blanc has taken them.

It’s no wonder therefore that the bookies generally consider France as the fourth favourites to win the 2012 European Championships with their latest odds hovering around 12/1.

The French players that will make the biggest impact on this year’s Euros include: national team captain and goalkeeping talent Hugo Lloris, Manchester City’s nippy fullback Gael Clichy, Bayern Munich’s experienced midfielder Franck Ribery and the highly-sought after striker Olivier Giroud. If these players can combine effectively, France’s European campaign will be a prosperous one.

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