Previous World Cup participations: fifteen
Best Graduation: Winner (1998, 2018)
World Cup record: W34 D13 L19
Biggest win: 7-3 v Paraguay (1958)
players to watch: Kylian Mbappe
fixtures: Australia (November 22), Denmark (November 26), Tunisia (November 30)
Les Bleus will go into the World Cup with high hopes despite a string of poor results that saw them narrowly avoid relegation from the Nations League.
The reigning world champions have won just once in their last six games but still travel to Qatar as one of the favourites.
France coach Didier Deschamps has to make some changes to his team with regular starters N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba missing through injury.
With France possessing an embarrassing wealth in midfield, Deschamps will have plenty of players to call on, including 22-year-old Aurelien Tchouameni, who has impressed at Real Madrid.
France are expected to advance from Group D where they were drawn against Tunisia, Denmark and Australia. It’s almost a copy of their group at the 2018 World Cup, where they were drawn against Denmark, Australia and Peru and led the group with seven points.
Les Bleus at the World Cup
Les Bleus’ first successful tournament came at the 1958 World Cup in Sweden, where striker Just Fountaine scored 13 goals in six games.
France would be clearly beaten 5-2 by eventual winners Brazil in the semifinals.
In the 1980s, France really made their mark on the international stage, finishing fourth and third at the 1982 and 1986 World Cups, respectively, and also winning the 1984 European Championship.
This French side included midfield maestro Michel Platini and defender Marius Trésor, among others, and played high-intensity football that produced some of the most dramatic matches of the World Cup, including the famous 3-3 semi-final against West Germany in 1982.
This golden generation would eventually give way to a French team that failed to qualify for the next two World Cups, and the nation had to wait until 1998 when they hosted the World Cup for the second time in their history.
The 1998 team, which included Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet and Zinedine Zidane, won the tournament emphatically, beating Brazil 3-0 in the final and ushering in a new period of dominance where they would go on to win another European championship in 2000 .
After dropping out in the group stages of the 2002 World Cup in South Korea and Japan, followed by a quarter-final loss to hosts and eventual winners Greece at the 2002 European Championships, France reached the 2004 World Cup final again. The tense match against Italy ended 1-1 and would lose France 3-5 on penalties but will ultimately be best remembered for Zidane’s infamous headbutt on Marco Materazzi.
A troubled 2010 World Cup in South Africa saw Les Bleus eliminated in the group stage.
Internal turmoil erupted, partly due to a player’s training boycott after Raymond Domenech sacked Nicolas Anelka after the forward berated and openly criticized him. An improved performance in Brazil in 2014 would ultimately end in disappointment as France were knocked out by Germany in the quarter-finals.
In 2018, after a runner-up finish at the 2016 European Championships, France clinched their second World Cup gold at the tournament in Russia, beating Croatia 4-2 in the final.
As one of the favorites in the tournament, France will expect to reach at least the semifinals if not the final.
Les Bleus should make it through their group with relative ease. In the next phase they are likely to face Poland or Mexico, followed by a possible matchup with England, Netherlands or Senegal if there are no major surprises.
In the semifinals they could face teams like Brazil, Belgium or Germany.
With a roster full of world-class talent, they must be viewed as real contenders for winning the World Cup. However, since Brazil defended its title in 1962, no nation has repeated the feat.