France Profile

Major Honours World Cup (2) European Championships (2), Confederations Cup (2)
Year Founded 1904

France, commonly known as Les Bleus, are one of the most successful teams in world football history, having won the FIFA World Cup in 1998 and 2018 and the European Championships in 1984 and 2000.

Among the great players to don their colours over the ages have been Michel Platini, Thierry Henry, Patrick Vieira, Zinedine Zidane, Youri Djorkaeff and Claude Makelele.

The origins of Les Bleus

France played their first official international in a 3-3 draw with Belgium in May 1904 and both were among the founding members of FIFA that same month.

France were eliminated in the group stage of the 1930 World Cup, the first ever edition of the tournament. However, Lucien Laurent went into the history books for scoring the first ever World Cup goal in France's 4-1 win over Mexico.

Les Bleus were eliminated in the first round of the 1934 World Cup. In 1938, they made the quarter-finals as hosts, losing 3-1 to Italy.

France in the 1950s

The 1950s saw the emergence of a new generation of French footballers, with iconic Moroccan-born striker Just Fontaine leading the line with distinction.

Just Fontaine, France, 1954

France withdrew from the 1950 World Cup and exited at the group stage in 1954, but they fared significantly better in 1958, finishing third in Sweden.

They lost to Brazil in the semi-finals, but beat West Germany in the third-place play-off. Fontaine scored four goals in a 6-3 victory, taking his tournament tally to 13 goals - a record which still stands to date.

After finishing fourth at the 1960 European Championships, France fell into a slump, failing to qualify for the 1962 World Cup or 1964 European Championships.

Although France qualified for the 1966 World Cup, they were eliminated in the group stage, subsequently failing to qualify in 1970 or 1974. Les Bleus failed to qualify for the 1968, 1972, 1976 or 1980 European Championships. In 1978, they once again suffered a group-stage exit at the World Cup.

World Cup podiums and Les Bleus' first European Championships trophy

A golden generation of French footballers emerged in the 1980s with Michel Platini being the main star of the show. Jean Tigana, Alain Giresse and Luis Fernandez helped Platini in creating the "carre magique" ("Magic Square") partnership which proved so fruitful in the 1982 World Cup, where France lost to West Germany in the semi-finals on penalties.

In 1984, France won the European Championships under the guidance of long-serving manager Michel Hidalgo. Platini and Bruno Bellone scored in a 2-0 final victory over Spain. Top scorer Platini's goal was his ninth of the tournament.

France with the trophy in the Euro 1984 final

Hidalgo was replaced by Henri Michel after the Euros but France remained a competitive force. They won gold at the 1984 Summer Olympics and beat Uruguay 2-0 to win the Artemio Franchi trophy, a precursor to the FIFA Confederations Cup.

In 1986, France were favourites to win their first FIFA World Cup prize, but they lost to West Germany in the semi-finals and had to settle for third place after a 4-2 victory over Belgium.

France failed to qualify for the 1990 World Cup under the guidance of Platini, who had taken over as manager. He led them to Euro 1992, but despite a solid run of form heading into the tournament, they were eliminated in the group stage and Platini departed, paving the way for Gerard Houllier to take charge.

Houllier led France to the brink of qualification for the 1994 World Cup, but they missed out due to nightmare defeats to Israel and Bulgaria. Houllier's assistant, Aime Jacquet, was promoted and took over as manager.

Les Bleus' golden years

France celebrate in the final of the 1998 World Cup

Jacquet led France to the semi-finals of the 1996 European Championships, but they were beaten 6-5 on penalties by the Czech Republic.

In 1998, on home soil, a France team inspired by Zinedine Zidane, Emmanuel Petit and Marcel Desailly stormed into the World Cup final on home soil, where they met world champions Brazil, whose main star at the time was Ronaldo.

On their way to a historic first World Cup victory, Les Bleus dispatched of Denmark, South Africa and Saudi Arabia in the group stages, before edging past Paraguay in the round of 16 in extra-time and holding their nerve to defeat Italy 4-3 on penalties after a goalless draw in the quarter-finals.

With the knowledge that Brazil would await them in the final should they win - after a victory over the Netherlands on penalties the night before - France met Croatia in the semi-finals, bettering them 2-1 to set up a much-anticipated final clash.

Brazil were hindered by the fact that star striker Ronaldo was ill before the game but ended up playing regardless. He was unimpressive as France triumphed 3-0 at the Stade de France thanks to a breathtaking display from Zinedine Zidane.

They followed that up with a triumph at Euro 2000 in Belgium and Holland under coach Roger Lemerre, who took over from Jacquet following the World Cup.

France hold the Euro 2000 trophy aloft

Finishing runners-up in Group D to co-hosts Netherlands after a 3-2 defeat, Les Bleus edged two close encounters with Spain and Portugal 2-1, winning the latter via the golden goal rule in extra-time.

Awaiting France in the final were age-old competitive rivals in Italy who had enjoyed a successful tournament having put six past Yugoslavia before eliminating co-hosts Netherlands in the semi-finals 3-1 on penalties.

After a nervy final between two of the world's best national sides, David Trezeguet scored the golden goal in a 2-1 extra time victory to secure back-to-back victories in major international tournaments for Les Bleus.

France won the 2001 Confederations Cup, but were eliminated in the group stage at the 2002 World Cup, famously losing their first match 1-0 to debutants Senegal.

France were eliminated by eventual champions Greece in the quarter-finals of Euro 2004, as their tournament victories within the last decade began to slowly become a distant memory.

Defeats in finals

Under Raymond Domenech, France recovered from a slow start to the 2006 World Cup in Germany to make the final. Along the way, they eliminated world champions Brazil 1-0 in the quarter-finals.

However, France lost to Italy on penalties in the final in a match infamous for Zinedine Zidane's headbutt on Marco Materazzi. The France icon was red-carded in his last ever match as a player.

France were eliminated from a strong Euro 2008 group which included the Netherlands and Italy. They qualified for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa thanks to a controversial play-off win over the Republic of Ireland earned thanks in large part to a clear handball from Thierry Henry in the build-up to a William Gallas goal, which was overlooked by the referee.

France's World Cup campaign was marred by player protests following Domenech's spat with striker Nicolas Anelka, which resulted in the Chelsea player being sent home. They finished bottom of a group containing UruguayMexico and South Africa.

Domenech was replaced by Laurent Blanc, who led France to the quarter-finals of Euro 2012, where they lost to eventual champions Spain.

Blanc subsequently resigned and was replaced by Didier Deschamps, who steered France to the quarter-finals of the 2014 World Cup. Again, they were beaten by the eventual champions - Germany on this occasion.

Deschamps' France made the final of Euro 2016 on home soil and would have fancied their chances of victory, but they were beaten 1-0 in the final by Portugal thanks to an Eder goal in extra time.

Winning the 2018 World Cup

Paul Pogba celebrates winning the 2018 World Cup

At the World Cup in 2018, France ended their wait for another World Cup trophy when they triumphed in Russia to win their first tournament since their 1998 victory on home soil.

Deschamps has never been shy to upset big-name players and star striker Karim Benzema was a notable absentee from his World Cup squad. Olivier Giroud led the line for Les Bleus with goalkeeper Hugo Lloris captaining the side.

Deschamps' side breezed through the group stages in first position following hard-fought victories over Peru and Australia and a goalless draw with Denmark, to set-up a round of 16 clash with Lionel Messi and Argentina.

In a seven-goal thriller that saw two goal of the tournament contenders from Benjamin Pavard and Angel Di Maria respectively, Les Bleus held on to a 4-3 victory to advance to the quarter-finals.

Uruguay posed no real match for Deschamps' side in the quarters as they beat Luis Suarez and co. thanks to goals from Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann, with only Belgium now standing in the way of them and the final.

France triumphed over Belgium in the World Cup semi-finals and beat Croatia 4-2 in the final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, with Antoine Griezmann picking up the man of the match prize.

After Mario Mandzukic's own goal and Griezmann's penalty, France had added to their tally thanks to goals from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe, who at the time was only 19 years old.

Mbappe became only the second teenager in football history to score in a World Cup final alongside the great Pele, deservedly winning the Young Player of the Tournament award.

France's legends

Thierry Henry is France's all-time record goalscorer, having netted 51 times for Les Bleus in 123 appearances between 1997 and 2010. Henry played for the likes of AS MonacoJuventus and Barcelona, but his best club football was played at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger.

Thierry Henry, France, 2002

France's all-time record appearance-maker, Lilian Thuram, is another player who excelled largely thanks to the influence of Wenger in his career. After his spell at Monaco, Thuram went on to play for Parma, Juventus and Barcelona.

Tottenham goalkeeper Hugo Lloris currently holds the record for most games played as France captain, and will go down as one of the country's most successful skippers of all time.

Another number-one in Fabian Barthez has also etched his name into France's footballing history books, with the most World Cup appearances for his country.

Legendary France striker Just Fontaine holds the astonishing record of scoring the most goals in a single World Cup campaign, returning 13 in six at the 1958 tournament.

France's biggest rivals

France have a strong rivalry with Italy, having competed against them in several important matches. This rivalry was only heightened by Zidane's infamous headbutt on Materazzi, allegedly after being provoked with a personal insult related to a family member.

Les Bleus also have a rivalry with Germany, who as West Germany stood between their golden 1980s team and major honours.

France's fanbase

France are known for often utilising the services of players of African descent in their national team, dating back as far as the 1930s. Many African supporters showed solidarity with the French national team during the 2018 World Cup as a result.

France News