Thursday 22 March 2018 / 11:21 AM


Host nation France look to be the top pick in the 2016 edition of the European Championship.

Other likely contenders for the trophy are the experienced Spain, machine-like Germany and quiet achievers Belgium.

France have the home advantage and statistics suggest the frogs love the home advantage winning two of their three major tournaments when played on home soil.

Aside from this, France – 2-1 winners over Romania in the tournament opener – have a devastating young line-up that provides options in a variety of positions.

However, three key players will play a vital role in the Frances’ success or failure.

Firstly, the dabbing sensation Paul Pogba. Pogba has been an integral part of the Juventus side that won the league, and his ability to play as a box-to-box midfielder paired with his physical presence makes him a nightmare for oppositions to cover across the park.

Alongside his workmanlike traits, he has the ability to pick a pass from a mile…

The French attackers are the most dynamic contingent in the tournament – they have the polarising figure of Oliver Giroud in the middle, accompanied by Anthony Martial and Antoine Griezmann.

The key man of the trio is Antonine Griezmann. After a stellar year with Aletico Madrid, he is pushing to become recognised one of the best strikers in the world.

Griezmann gives the French side a clinical finish to their attacks, as seen in his matches for Aletico. He was often only given one or two chances to score, and more often than not he took advantages. He makes quick, direct runs past the defence, but also has the technical ability to hold up the play and take the ball wide when needed.

The bullish Dimitri Payet has been a diamond in the rough for French selectors. His rapid rise to fame through his performances for West Ham in the Premier League has garnered cult-hero status.

There is only one Dimitri Payet.

His most recent performance for France in the opening fixture of the Euros – scoring a sensational 89th-minute winner – proved his most valuable qualities. He is extremely strong on the ball and allows France to develop in the final third as he and Pogba can control possession when needed.

But he’s not a one-trick pony, unlike other midfielders who are strong at slowing the game down. Payet has a bag of tricks, moves in his locker and can beat multiple defenders.

The man who leads the side is Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris. Lloris has been an integral part of the French side since his debut in 2008.

The Euros will be Lloris’ most important in his role as captain. The French side are the clear favourites for the tournament despite frailties in defence.

France’s defence has been stricken by injury in losing four centre backs: Kurt Zouma, Jeremy Mathieu, Mamadou Sakho and Raphael Varane.

The loss of those players heaps pressure on to Lloris, forcing the skipper to play a larger role in commanding his defenders – particularly Laurent Koscielny and Adil Rami.

Lloris will bring a fantastic shot-stopping ability as well as his leadership and a serious presence in the box.

The pieces are in place for France to add to their 1984 and 2000 Euros triumphs.

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Mitchell Van Homrigh

Brisbane-based Mitchell arrived at CBS in 2016 to bolster the site’s football and cricket coverage.

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