The 23 players that make up France's EURO 2012 squad are hoping to emulate their compatriots of 1984 and 2000 by bringing home the European championship trophy. Here’s a breakdown on the 23 men that form "Les Bleues".
REUTERS - The France squad for the Euro 2012 finals comprises the following 23 players:
Hugo Lloris (Olympique Lyon) Born: 26.12.86 Caps: 32.
Made league debut at Nice and burst into the limelight after joining Lyon in 2008, earning his first cap that year in a 0-0 friendly draw against Uruguay. Won a two-man battle with Steve Mandanda to become France’s number one keeper. A shy character, Lloris, whose lightning quick saves helped Lyon to a Champions League semi-final two years ago, can raise his voice when needed. That earned him the captain’s armband for Euro 2012.
Steve Mandanda (Olympique Marseille) Born: 28.03.85 Caps: 15.
Fantastic shot-stopper with a taste for spectacular saves, the Kinshasa-born Olympique Marseille keeper lost his place as France’s first choice to Lloris before the 2010 World Cup, the main reason being that he is not as safe on high balls.
Cedric Carrasso (Girondins Bordeaux) Born: 30.12.81 Caps: 1.
The Bordeaux keeper is very unlikely to play a single game and there were other very good keepers that could have claimed the third spot but he is well integrated in the squad.
Patrice Evra (Manchester United) Born: 15.05.81 Caps: 40. Goals: 0.
Left back, lost the France captain’s armband after the World Cup fiasco and has been keeping a low profile internationally since he came back from a five-match suspension. Fast and technically gifted, he still has to make a bigger impact in attack, but with Eric Abidal missing out on Euro 2012 because of a liver transplant, he is unlikely to face competition for his place despite a poor performance in a 3-2 friendly win against Iceland in May.
Anthony Reveillere (Olympique Lyon) Born: 10.11.79 Caps: 17 Goals: 1.
A versatile fullback who can play on the right or left
flank. His attacking skills are a plus. Will not complain if he spends the whole tournament on the bench.
Gael Clichy (Manchester City) Born: 26.07.85 Caps: 12 Goals: 0.
A talented and consistent left back, he is the undisputed number one at Manchester City, but second choice to Manchester United’s Patrice Evra for his country.
Philippe Mexes (AC Milan) Born: 30.03.82 Caps: 25 Goals: 1.
His style of play is reminiscent of that of France coach Laurent Blanc, who made him his first-choice centre back when he took charge in 2010 alongside Adril Rami. Can sometimes be nonchalant and over-confident.
Adil Rami (Valencia) Born: 27.12.85 Caps: 19 Goals: 1.
A solid centre-back with a taste for spectacular bursts into the opposite box, his partnership with Philippe Mexes is one of Laurent Blanc’s best achievements since he took over as France coach. Sometimes takes unnecessary risks.
Mathieu Debuchy (Lille) Born: 28.07.85 Caps: 4 Goals: 1.
Produced man-of-match performance in France’s 2-1 defeat of Germany last February, probably earning a place in the starting line-up as a right-back. His association with Mathieu Valbuena on the right flank has been devastating. Also very solid defensively.
Laurent Koscielny (Arsenal) Born: 10.09.85 Caps: 2 Goals: 0.
Koscielny, who has a decent season at Arsenal, is only a second-choice centre back but he is the only one able to deputise for Rami or Mexes so he has a good chance of playing should France enjoy a decent run.
Yohan Cabaye (Newcastle United) Born: 14.1.86 Caps: 12 Goals: 0.
Emerged as one of France’s best midfielders at Lille, where he won the French Cup and Ligue 1 title in 2011, before joining Newcastle. His defensive skills and ability to set up and score goals are outstanding.
Blaise Matuidi (Paris St Germain) Born 09.04.87 Caps: 4 Goals: 0.
A surprise pick in the squad, he was named because of Abou Diaby and Lassana Diarra’s absences. He is a holding midfielder known for his endurance and ability to steal the ball, but he’s also able to take part in the game building. Earned a starting place at Paris St Germain despite tough competition.
Samir Nasri (Manchester City) Born: 26.06.87 Caps: 30 Goals: 3.
Silkily-skilled playmaker, the great absentee of the 2010 World Cup squad, along with Karim Benzema, converted the penalty against Bosnia that sealed France’s passage to the finals. Has been a first-choice creative force since Blanc took charge, but has caused problems by not being as decisive as expected.
Marvin Martin (Sochaux) Born: 10.01.88 Caps: 11 Goals: 2.
Made an impressive start when he scored two late goals as a substitute on his debut in a friendly against Ukraine. Has been regularly called up since despite a poor season with Sochaux. Highly skilled in passing and playmaking, but lacks top-level experience.
Yann Mvila (Stade Rennes) Born: 26.06.90 Caps: 19 Goals: 1.
Defensive holding midfielder, called up when Blanc took charge of Les Bleus, quickly established himself, missed only a few games through injury. Widely praised for his great passing technique and energetic contribution to teamwork and been linked with a move to Arsenal.
Florent Malouda (Chelsea) Born: 13.06.80 Caps: 76 Goals: 9.
Left midfielder, the most capped player in the squad, took part in the dismal 2008 and 2010 campaigns, praised by Blanc for his dedication to defensive tasks, but blamed by many for failing to create enough goal chances. Could challenge Ribery on the left wing, but more likely to start the championships as a substitute.
Alou Diarra (Olympique Marseille) Born: 15.07.81 Caps: 40 Goals: 0.
One of a few French box-to-box midfielders, was captain at Bordeaux when Blanc led them to the Ligue 1 title in 2009 and also wore Les Bleus’s armband several times before losing his place in Marseille team. Came off the bench in the 2006 World Cup final and, despite mediocre season, remains a stalwart in Blanc’s squad.
Karim Benzema (Real Madrid) Born: 19.12.87 Caps: 44 Goals: 13.
The unchallenged number one forward under Blanc. Scored crucial goals and has been also essential in playmaking. Eventually found his place in the Real Madrid starting line-up, two years after joining from Olympique Lyon.
Olivier Giroud (Montpellier) Born: 30.09.86 Caps: 5 Goals: 1.
Called up for the first time for friendly games last November, earned his place in squad by scoring the opener when France won 2-1 in Germany. Named Ligue 2 best player in 2009, moved to Montpellier where he helped inspire an unexpected title run. Has a real eye for goal.
Franck Ribery (Bayern Munich) Born: 07.04.83 Caps: 59 Goals: 9.
One of four players banned for the 2010 World Cup training strike scandal, he turned from French fans favourite to almost an outcast. Made an impressive start with France at the 2006 World Cup, including a decisive goal in quarter-finals against Spain. Has recovered his best form with Bayern this season but still struggling to do the same with the national team.
Jeremy Menez (Paris St Germain) Born: 07.05.87 Caps: 12 Goals: 0.
Considered to be one of France’s greatest talents, turned professional at 16, but still struggling for consistency eight years later. Joined Paris St Germain last summer after three years at AS Roma. Fast and unpredictable, likely to be on the bench as an impact substitute.
Mathieu Valbuena (Olympique Marseille) Born: 28.09.84 Caps: 11 Goals: 2.
A surprise selection at the 2010 World Cup where he barely played, picked regularly by Blanc, but not always as a starter. Dubbed ‘The Little One’, made his name in Europe with a stunning goal at Liverpool in 2007 Champions League and another one this season at Borussia Dortmund.
Hatem Ben Arfa (Newcastle United) Born 07.03.87 Caps: 10 Goals: 2