Euro 2020: Decoding world champions France's squad
The French national football team has been announced for the upcoming European Championships in June. France coach Didier Deschamps has named a strong 26-member squad for the Euro 2020. Notably, Real Madrid star Karim Benzema makes a return after nearly six years. The FIFA World Cup 2018 champions have been drawn in Group F along with Germany, Portugal and Hungary. We decode France's squad.
Benzema has not played for France since 2015 as a result of his alleged involvement in an attempted blackmail case involving ex-France team-mate Mathieu Valbuena. The 33-year-old missed France's Euro 2016 campaign and 2018 World Cup win as a result of the allegations. He is accused of paying individuals to extort money from Valbuena by threatening to make a sex tape public in 2015.
France manager Deschamps said he discussed at length with Benzema and had a long reflection. "The most important is today and tomorrow," he said. "There were important steps. We saw each other. We discussed at length. I had a long reflection to come to this decision. I won't reveal a word of the discussion, that concerns us. I needed it, he needed it."
France have what it takes to go the distance in this summer's European Championships. They have also reached the semi-finals of the UEFA Nations League and face Belgium for a place in the final. The world champions have huge depth and character across every position on the pitch. With Germany and Portugal to deal with, France will relish the test in Group F.
In 2020-21, veteran forward Benzema has notched 29 goals in 45 appearances across competitions. Notably, he has 22 goals in La Liga, surpassing his last two season's tallies (21 each). He has also scripted a feat of scoring 25-plus goals in three successive seasons.
Goal-keepers: Hugo Lloris, Mike Maignan, Steve Mandanda Defenders: Lucas Digne, Leo Dubois, Lucas Hernandez, Presnel Kimpembe, Jules Kounde, Clement Lenglet, Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Kurt Zouma Mid-fielders: N'Golo Kante, Thomas Lemar, Paul Pogba, Adrien Rabiot, Moussa Sissoko, Corentin Tolisso Forwards: Wissam Ben Yedder, Karim Benzema, Kingsley Coman, Ousmane Dembele, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe, Marcus Thuram
Benzema's form means he will lead the attack as the central striker. The veteran adds more firepower to the attacking options. France already have Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann, besides Ben Yedder, who has lit up Ligue 1 with his goals.