France World Cup 2022 guide: Key players, injuries, tactics & tournament prediction

Benzema will be key
Benzema will be key / Image by Briony Painter

The 2018 FIFA World Cup winners will go to Qatar attempting to do something that hasn't been done since 1962: retain the trophy.

Here's everything you need to know ahead of Les Bleus' World Cup campaign.

When are France's group games?

  • France vs Australia (22nd November, 19:00 GMT)
  • France vs Denmark (26th November, 16:00 GMT)
  • Tunisia vs France (30th November, 15:00)
  • France vs Australia H2H record: Played 3, won 2, drawn 1.
  • France vs Denmark H2H record: Played 16, won 8, drawn 2, lost 6.
  • Tunisia vs France H2H record: Played 5, won 2, drawn 2, lost 1.

Who is in France's confirmed 26-player squad for the World Cup?

Goalkeepers: Alphonse Areola (West Ham), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Rennes)

Defenders: Lucas Hernardez (Bayern Munich), Theo Hernandez (AC Milan), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool), Jules Kounde (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), William Saliba (Arsenal), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich), Raphael Varane (Manchester United), Axel Disasi (Monaco)

Midfielders: Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Matteo Guendouzi (Marseille), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid), Jordan Veretout (Marseille)

Forwards: Karim Benzema (Real Madrid), Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Olivier Giroud (AC Milan), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Christopher Nkunku (RB Leipzig), Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach)

Which France players are missing the World Cup through injury?

Quite a few.

The key players who are set to miss the tournament are Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante, both of whom were instrumental during the 2018 World Cup triumph. Les Bleus' midfield options, in all honesty, look quite average while their two stars aren't available for selection.

Elsewhere Mike Maignan as missed out due to an injury too. Hugo Lloris was always going to start for France - he is their captain after all - but Maignan would've provide the best injury cover imaginable had he been fit himself.

Centre-back Presnel Kimpembe was named in the original squad but was later forced to withdraw, with Monaco's Axel Disasi taking his place.

Who are France's best players?

Karim Benzema
Benzema is the best in the world right now / Aurelien Meunier/GettyImages

Karim Benzema

The 2022 Ballon d'Or winner was undeniably the best footballer in the world throughout the 2021/22 season, scoring a 44 goals and bagging 15 assists in 46 appearances across all competitions for Madrid and averaging a goal contribution every 66.4 minutes as the club won La Liga and yet another UEFA Champions League trophy.

His form in the Champions League, in particular, is what has made him a worthy winner of the Ballon d'Or in 2022. The 34-year-old scored 15 goals in that competition alone, with 10 of those coming in the knockout rounds alone.

This season the French star has had his injury issues, but should be fit and firing for his national team come the start of the tournament.

Kylian Mbappe

The breakout star of the 2018 FIFA World Cup and still only 23 years old, Kylian Mbappe is one of the few players in world football capable of winning knockout round games on his own.

Mbappe has bagged himself 18 goals in 19 games so far this season at club level and four in six in 2022 at international level.

He's very big time.

Aurelien Tchouameni

Is Tchouameni one of France's best players?

The answer: he kind of has to be if they're to have any hope of winning the World Cup.

The midfielder has been decent since his move to Real Madrid but he'll need to really step up his game to a new level this winter. With Pogba and Kante out injured, he really is their only hope in the centre of the park.

France predicted starting lineup

Didier Deschamps will, as he usually does, opt for a 4-3-3 formation. Most of the team is pretty easy to pick but expect some rotation in the midfield while Pogba and Kante are both unavailable.

France predicted XI: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Kimpembe, T. Hernandez; Rabiot, Tchouameni, Camavinga; Mbappe, Benzema, Dembele.

France's form going into the World Cup

Les Bleus' recent form isn't really something to write home about.

In the Nations League they finished with just one win in six games and lost twice to their Group D rivals Denmark.

Frances last five results (all competitions)

Croatia 1-1 France (Nations League)
Austria 1-1 France (Nations League)
France 0-1 Croatia (Nations League)
France 2-0 Austria (Nations League)
Denmark 0-2 France (Nations League)

Where will France finish in the World Cup?

According to the bookies France are second favourites to win the 2022 World Cup - and we don't really know why.

Their recent form has been abysmal, their midfield has been decimated by injuries and, historically, World Cup holders do not perform well at the tournament.

For these reasons we're banking on a relatively early exit from the competition for Deschamps' men.

Prediction: Round of 16