All observers agree on at least one point: Group F, home to the last two world champions (France and Germany) and the reigning Portuguese European champion, is by far the most successful. The main thing for the Blues is, already, to emerge unscathed and, if affinities, in pole position. We explain ourselves. A few hours before their debut in the tournament, this Tuesday evening in Munich against the Mannschaft, the time has not yet come to get lost in guesswork. However, by justifying its status as a scarecrow, France, also facing Hungary, would be more or less guaranteed to benefit from a very affordable opponent in the round of 16. It would obviously be an open door leading to distant lands. The assurance of a clearer horizon until the semi-finals.
If they finish first, Hugo Lloris' partners would then be opposed to third in group A (Italy, Switzerland, Wales, Turkey), B (Belgium, Finland, Denmark, Russia) or C (Austria, Netherlands). Bas, Ukraine, North Macedonia).
Unless there is a major mishap, they would avoid Italy, Belgium or even the Netherlands.
By crossing this obstacle, they would offer themselves, then, a quarter-final, again, quite in their ropes against the 2nd of group D (England, Czech Republic, Scotland, Croatia) or E (Spain, Sweden, Poland Slovakia).
The 2016 example
A second place could, however, bring them a rival of a different ilk with the first in Group D, potentially England who would then play at home at Wembley. The old Croatian acquaintance, defeated at the opening by the Three Lions (1-0), did not, however, obstruct his chances of winning the bet. The Czech Republic, dominating without striking a blow to Scotland for its entry into the running (2-0), also has the right to seek first place.
The last scenario would see the Blues go through a mouse hole by finishing among the 4 best third. In this eventuality, they would have to grapple with, no doubt, very heavy in 8th in the person of the winner of group B (Belgium?) Or C (Netherlands?). The identity of the opponent will be determined by the origin of the groups of the other three best third.
In 2016, Antoine Griezmann's teammates emerged victorious from a pool with Romania, Switzerland and Albania. They had, behind, dismissed the Republic of Ireland, Iceland, Germany before stumbling in the final on Portugal (1-0 ap). Four years earlier, during the European Championship co-organized by Poland and Ukraine, an impromptu defeat in the third match against Sweden by Zlatan Ibrahimovic (2-0) had deprived them of first place to the benefit of the 'England. Opposed in the quarter-finals to Spain, the strongest nation at the start of the previous decade, they had not existed leaving, in passing, the tournament without glory or real trace (2-0).
As Marcel Desailly reminded us, a second folding seat is not always prohibitive. It even augurs, sometimes, of a fate in capital letters. Outpaced in the group stage by the Netherlands in 2000, the French had dug their groove to win the Grail on July 2 against Italy (2-1 golden goal).