France are tipped by many to win the European Championships this summer.
Granted, it’s natural that any nation coming off the back of winning the World Cup would be fancied to conquer the continent in tandem – and that’s exactly what Les Bleus achieved in 2000.
But there’s more to the situation than simply momentum because despite three years having passed since that glorious summer in Russia, France’s squad is arguably looking stronger than ever.
High expectations for France
Besides, it’s staggering to think that Didier Deschamps has so much quality at his finger tips that some of the highest-rated players in Europe have fallen short of his 26-man cohort.
Everyone from Eduardo Camavinga to Dayot Upamecano and Samuel Umtiti to Anthony Martial weren’t deemed good enough for a squad that could bulldoze all before them this summer.
And Les Bleus have received one of the biggest endorsements possible ahead of the tournament by way of high praise from none other than Jose Mourinho.
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Mourinho on France’s chances
The incoming AS Roma coach, who was sacked by Tottenham Hotspur in April, gave a fascinating preview on some of Euro 2020’s biggest contenders with The Sun this week.
Naturally, France formed part of his country-by-country breakdown with the ‘Special One’ even suggesting that they have so much quality that anything less than victory would be a failure.
Mourinho wrote: “I cannot see any weakness. If I had to say one team to win it, I will say them – because the group of players is fantastic. They have to win it. If not, it is an unsuccessful Euros.”
However, as we’re all aware, international tournaments aren’t simply won on paper and France will have to do much more than just rely on their world-class quality to conquer the continent.
Deschamps fires back at Mourinho
And it’s a fact that Deschamps, who tasted defeat in the Euro 2016 final, couldn’t be more aware of with the France boss issuing a brilliant response to Mourinho’s comments on Sunday afternoon.
When asked about Mourinho opining that France not winning Euro 2020 would mark an unsuccessful tournament, Deschamps couldn’t resist aiming a cheeky dig about Tottenham.
According to Get French Football News, Deschamps told French television channel TF1: “I thought the same thing about his Tottenham team, but it did not end up happening like that…
Then, per the Mirror, he continued: “Automatically, with the status of world champions, we are favourites, with three more years of experience. I have a very important offensive potential.
“But it’s not just that. You talk about balance but I don’t disconnect them from our midfield too. We will do everything to have the ball as much as possible but there will be times when we will not have the ball.
“It is not a pressure, it is a reality, we will not run away from the debate: France is one of the favourites for this Euro.”
Ouch. Would you like some ice for that burn, Jose?
Deschamps vs Mourinho
Deschamps and Mourinho famously went head-to-head during the 2004 Champions League final with the latter securing a 3-0 victory for FC Porto against AS Monaco.
However, fast-forward 17 years and it’s clear to see which of the two managers has the greater standing in the beautiful game with Deschamps now managing the undisputed world champions.
It remains to be seen whether Mourinho will ever manage an international team himself, but he’s clearly putting the pressure on the strongest of them all ahead of time if he does.
But to be fair to Deschamps, he gave as good as he got, brilliantly putting Mourinho in his place and tempering expectations surrounding France in tandem. That, in itself, is world-