Didier Deschamps’ weekends have become really tricky in 2020. The France head coach wants to watch as many of his players featuring for their clubs every Saturday or Sunday, but the problem is that there are too many contenders now to make the squad that he and his assistants are struggling to watch everyone! They have to settle for highlight reels at times, though they do try to catch as much action as possible every weekend.
At a time when so many of the world’s best national teams are in a state of flux, Deschamps knows how much of a luxury the depth of his France squad is. France have so much talent that, on top of being the current World Champions, they’re the natural favourites for Euro 2020. There’s certainly a feeling right now within the French setup and the local media that Les Bleus have a unique opportunity to build a football dynasty, one that could do even better than the great 1998-2000 generation and even emulate Spain‘s domination from 2008 to 2012.
Two years ago in Russia, France boasted the second-youngest squad in the competition with an average player age of 25.6 years, just behind Nigeria (25.5). Only Brazil in 1970 won the World Cup with a younger overall team. Some players weren’t in their prime — far from it, even — like Kylian Mbappe or Presnel Kimpembe. Going forward, they will get stronger individually and collectively, more experienced, more mature, more used to winning as well.
— UEFA Nations League: Portugal vs. France, 2.45 p.m. ET, Saturday 11/14, ESPN+ (U.S.)
The defeat in the Euro 2016 final against Portugal was a big learning curve for Deschamps and his players. They took a lot of positives with them on the road to 2018, working tirelessly on the things that didn’t go well like their defensive solidity, game management and a lack of tactical versatility. At the end of 2020, France have more tactical tools than perhaps ever before. Deschamps has plenty of options: in the past 18 months, they have played in a flat 4-4-2, in a diamond 4-4-2, in a 4-3-3, in a 3-4-3, in a 3-4-1-2. Not one position — apart from right-back, perhaps, with just Benjamin Pavard and Leo Dubois — is not stacked with plenty of competition for places.
Deschamps is very intelligent and has always been opportunistic. When he took over from Laurent Blanc in 2012, he didn’t inherit a very talented squad. Les Bleus were in fact average at the time, apart from the likes of Karim Benzema, Franck Ribery and Hugo Lloris. Yet it wasn’t a problem for the new head coach; if anything, it gave him a blank slate upon which to build his team and his squad like he wanted. And he was very much aware of the…