Euro 2016 Burning Question: How will France fit their strikers in?
With Euro 2016 under a month away, Ladbrokes News will be asking (and looking to solve) a big question or two hanging over some of the more fancied nations vying for glory.
What better place to start than with hosts France, who are the 10/3 favourites to claim a third Euros success in their history.
France are in Group A alongside Albania, Romania and Switzerland.
Unlike other national managers, the ultra assertive Didier Deschamps has already slapped his cards on the table by announcing his final 23-man squad.
Here they are:
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) May 12, 2016
Les Bleus look a hugely talented bunch on paper and like a few other leading Euro 2016 protagonists, you could probably create a highly-competitive side from those that failed to make the cut.
Of the chosen ones, Deschamps has an attacking selection dilemma to rival that of opposite number Roy Hodgson at England; just how does the World Cup winner set about accommodating some of Europe’s best forwards?
Although he’s named as a ‘forward’ it’s probably safe to assume Dimitri Payet can be ruled out of the striker equation, albeit finding a slot for West Ham’s attacking midfield maestro is arguably as hard.
Benzema, Valbuena and Gameiro did not make the squad #france#euro2016 pic.twitter.com/HkSlODucPZ
— Int Soccer Teams (@IntSoccerTeams) May 13, 2016
Deschamps may not have had a qualification campaign over which to sharpen his convictions about formations and personnel.
However, the way the French manager has shaped up Les Bleus in friendlies over the course of this season does give plenty of insight into his thinking at least.
On the subject of formation, plan A for Group A very much appears to be 4-3-3. Deschamps has rolled with this pretty well since the 2014 World Cup, changing the personnel but sticking with the system. Below is France’s last friendly game against England’s Group B opponents Russia.
Giroud v Gignac
Judging by the last five games, Deschamps prefers to play a genuine target man at the apex and this looks to be a straight shoot out between two players; Arsenal’s Olivier Giroud and Tigres striker Andre-Pierre Gignac.
Both have led Les Bleus’ line with good effect in recent months but having finished the season in slightly better form and crucially, having scored four in his last five outings for his country, Giroud should find himself as a central figure in the forward line.
That’s some contrast to a player often unfairly maligned in an Arsenal shirt this season, despite finishing his fourth campaign as a Gunner with his best goals return since joining from Montpellier.
Anthony Martial has exemplified the courageous, skillful, direct player that Manchester United have been blessed with over their most successful era.
At 19, the kid has some future ahead of him based on a wonderful debut campaign for United. Having instantly opened his account against Liverpool with some individual brilliance, the former Monaco man approaches the FA Cup final having netted a very healthy tally of 17, with four coming in his last four.
Martial’s position cutting in from the left at Old Trafford has translated to his deployment there for France and barring injury the exciting teenager should be seen on the left of the three.
On the opposite side, he could well be joined by a Champions League-winning striker.
Since joining up with Atletico Madrid in July 2014, Antoine Griezmann has been nothing short of sensational. He finished his debut campaign in the La Liga Team of the Year with a tally of 22 goals and has subsequently raced onto 57 goals in only 107 Atleti appearances.
More often than not playing off the right of a front three or just behind a main striker, Griezmann has been one of the stars of Europe’s top club competition also – scoring seven times for Diego Simeone’s 2015/16 Champions League finalists.
A Front Line To Fear
Only two players are ahead of Griezmann in the betting to be Euro 2016’s top scorer. They are 7/1 favourite Thomas Muller and Ballon d’Or winner Cristiano Ronaldo at 8/1.
France’s hotshot is a 9/1 chance and Giroud is not far behind him either at 12s.
It’s difficult to see a team containing so much attacking verve, not going a very long way on home soil. Below is how we see Les Bleus lining up for Euro 2016’s opening game against Romania.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.