With the lowest points total of any of Europe's eight group winners, make no mistake France stumbled into their sixth successive major tournament by the skin of their teeth. Having drawn four of their opening six fixtures, the returns from international exile of Zinedine Zidane and Claude Makelele ultimately made the difference. The former World Cup winners sparked a revival which delivered crucial points in Dublin and Berne before Cyprus were put to the sword in Paris to confirm progression.

For vast stages of qualification, it was a close run thing. France not only failed to beat both Switzerland (who they will meet again in the group phase) and Israel, Raymond Domenech's side struggled to find the back of the net despite an unparalleled treasure trove of attacking riches. The dilemmas for Domenech are multitude: who to play upfront alongside Thierry Henry (Trezeguet, Cisse, Anelka, Saha, Govou, Wiltord), how to best exploit the intricacy of Zidane, how much youth to blood before the tournament's start plus the decision on his best goalkeeper. For a side which was dumped out of its last World Cup adventure in the first round, making the last 16 in a straight-forward looking Group G is by no means guaranteed.


France v Switzerland 13 June; KO 18:00; Stuttgart
France v South Korea 18 June; KO 21:00; Leipzig
France v Togo 23 June; KO 21:00; Cologne


Raymond Domenech


1930, 1934, 1954, 1966, 2002 First Round; 1938 Quarter Finals; 1982 Fourth place; 1958 & 1986 Third place, 1998 Champions

Men to watch

Zinedine Zidane, Thierry Henry

Predictions & Latest Odds

Should make it out of a relatively easy group along with South Korea.

How they qualified

France finished at the top of European Qualifying Group 4 , just, to qualify ahead of Switzerland, Israel and the Republic of Ireland.