Nickname: Les Bleus (The Blues)
FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking: 9
France come into the World Cup ranked 9th in the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Rankings; however, they still barely managed to qualify out of Europe. It took a play-off win against Ireland that came down to an extremely controversial overtime goal. Nonetheless, they are still expected to come out on top in Group A, which includes host South Africa (ranked 83rd), Mexico (ranked 17th) and Uruguay (ranked 16th).
Les Bleus are making their 13th World Cup appearance and fourth consecutive. They have been one of the top teams over the last several years having won the World Cup on home soil in 1998 and coming off a second place finish in Germany in 2006.
They are coached by Raymond Domenech, who is the country’s longest-serving national coach. Despite this fact he is a very controversial figure in the world of football. Many folks believe his style of coaching does not fit the talent he has at his disposal.
The key player for France is their captain, Thierry Henry. He is the only remaining player from the 1998 team that won the cup on home soil. He is a dynamic forward who is very creative and has great composure in front of the goal.
The midfield is led by Franck Ribery, a tireless player who, arguably, works harder than anyone on the team. He loves to attack more than create plays, especially from the wings. Also in the midfield is newcomer Yoann Gourcoff, who after only 16 games with the national team is being considered the new leader, taking over from former star Zinedine Zidane. He controls the game very well from the middle and is very creative. His play could very well be the key to France’s success in this World Cup.
Another big name for France is forward Nicolas Anelka, who at 30 is still playing at an extremely high level.