World Cup 2014 Preview: Which team will show up for France?

The Sports NetworkJune 1, 2014 

But the team stumbled badly at the 2002 World Cup and failed to advance beyond the group stage after managing to earn just a single point without scoring a goal.

Expectations had been lowered ahead of the 2006 World Cup, but the French advanced all the way to the final before losing to Italy on penalty kicks.

Things once again took a turn for the worse following that achievement as France bowed out early at Euro 2008 and again at the 2010 World Cup, which included the players going on strike to protest the exclusion of Nicolas Anelka during a group-stage game.

So what can we expect from France this time around?

Well, it's really anyone's guess.

France showed both sides of the coin in qualifying after finishing second to Spain in its group.

The team was on the verge of a disaster after losing 2-0 at Ukraine in the first leg of its playoff.

However, head coach Didier Deschamps saw his men rebound in a big way by recording a 3-0 win at home in the return leg, which included a pair of goals from defender Mamadou Sakho.

Deschamps will hope that version of France shows up at Brazil, because if it does, this team could easily find its way into the quarterfinals and beyond.

France received a kind draw in the group stage when it was placed with Switzerland, Ecuador and Honduras in Group E.

On paper, Deschamps has easily the best side in the group, but as we have seen before, that doesn't always tell the whole story.

If Deschamps is able to get his team on the same page, they should roll through the group with little trouble, led by star players like Franck Ribery and striker Karim Benzema.

Those two will be the catalysts of the French attack, which also includes Mathieu Valbuena, Loic Remy and Olivier Giroud.

Deschamps made the decision to leave Manchester City midfielder Samir Nasri at home, and he will instead rely on the steady Blaise Matuidi along with potential breakout star Paul Pogba and Yohan Cabaye, who will assume a bigger role for the national team than he has in the past.

A mix of youth and experience should serve France well as Sakho and Raphael Varane will be joined along the back line by veteran Patrice Evra, with the reliable Hugo Lloris between the posts.

As long as France tops Group E, the team will likely face Bosnia-Herzegovina or Nigeria in the next round, which should put Les Bleus into the last eight.

France possesses the kind of talent to go even further, so it is really down to how well this team can come together.

Regardless of the outcome, with France, it's usually entertaining.

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