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Best France XI of all time

Mon 31 May 2021 | 7:30

In the last twenty years, France has had one of the most successful national football teams in the world, a team that has won the World Cup twice over the years. Scratch that, let’s take a look at the Best France XI of all time.

Most likely, the current generation will remember the French national team for its recent victory in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, a team that many did not expect to reach the final alongside Croatia. But the truth is that French football has a brilliant history and the 2018 championship promises a return to the heyday of Les Bleus.  France is very good at football and due to their recent championship, they have the highest ranking among the national teams in the world. But since we are still in the 21st century, football may not be lucky with the French, because their football has experienced difficulties during this century.  Their success began with the 1998 World Cup and continued at Euro 2000. But the French succession did not continue and they failed to deliver the expectations. But now everything seems to be in favor of Les Bleus, they are back on the field and will soon have brilliant success with their top players. Now it's time to take a look at the Best France XI of all time. 

France's all-time greatest XI 

Despite so many beloved icons of Les Bleus, selecting a limited number of football players is indeed difficult and perhaps impossible. But below is Sportmob's selection of the

Best France XI of all time.

Fabien Barthez (Goalkeeper)

To begin our list of Best France XI of all time, who is better than Fabian Barthez, the popular French goalkeeper. Being born on 28 June 1971, Barthez is a French former professional goalie that has played for many teams at the club level namely

Toulouse

,

Marseille

,

AS Monaco

, Manchester United, and

Nantes

. and has joined the French national team since 1994 and He was one of the key players in France's success and championship at the 1998 World Cup, after which he won Yashin Award for the best goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup.

Few goalkeepers in France have managed to reach Barthez, despite his close rivalry with Bernard Lama. In times of trouble, Fabian was a great relief to his defense line since he was never afraid to step out and intervene, he was indeed one of the bravest. Whenever it was necessary, he showed off his high physical strength, and also, he did know how to speed up and pull the ball forward. He was quick and never hesitated to go forward. It is safe to say what puts him on the list of

Best France XI of all time

is his mutual cooperation with other french players  as a very modern left-back,  he had a good understanding with Zinedine Zidane and Christophe Dugarry. 

Marcel Desailly (Center-back)

The second player on our list of

France's all-time greatest XI

, is no one but Marcel Desailly, the French former professional footballer, widely considered to be among the greatest center-backs and defensive midfielders to ever play. Desailly was born on 7 September 1968 and started his football career at club level in 1986 which lasted till 2006. During his twenty-year-tenure, he had the honor to play in top-level clubs namely,  Marseille  

A.C. Milan

,  Nantes, and 

Chelsea

But at the international level, despite the fact he has ties with Ghana, he preferred playing for Les Bleus, that he has never considered playing for a country other than France. So, he started representing his country in 1993 which lasted till 2004. Up to the present moment, with 116 caps, Marcel Desailly is still one of France's best players to date. Throughout his active years at the international level, his critical role in the 1998 world cup cannot be ignored, though he was sent off in the final game, like the rest of the team, he was named Knight of the Legion of Honor in 1998. In that world cup, he proved himself with his expertise for smart, powerful tackles and ball-winning capabilities. His Golden time continued in Euro 2000 and after a year, in 2001, following Didier Deschamp's retirement he was made captain of Les Bleus and he led France to victory in the Confederations Cup. 

This prolific footballer announced his retirement in 2004, following UEFA European Football Championship and in two years his record of international caps  was broken during the 2006 FIFA World Cup by Lilian Thuram who is also included in our list of France best XI of all time. 

Laurent Blanc (Center-back)

With no doubt, we all hear the nickname Le Président. The third name on our list of

France all-time XI

is Lauran Blanc who was given the nickname Le Président following his stint at Marseille in tribute to his leadership skills.  Being born on 19 November 1965, he started his professional football career in 1983, and then in 2003, he ended his club career in Manchester United, though unfortunately like Barthez, most English football fans associate Blanc with the spell of misery at Manchester United.

Laurent Blanc started representing France as a center-back, in 1988 as he could win the 1988 European Under-21 Championship and also named the tournament's Golden Player by UEFA. In a year, he broke into France's senior team, and just like the other names above, he was one of the key players in the 1998 world cup. During the tournament, his performances were exemplary so that he managed to score the first golden goal in World Cup history against Paraguay in the Round of 16. In the quarterfinals on 28 June 1998. While he was playing with Les Bleus, he was well known for kissing good friend and goalkeeper Fabien Barthez's head before the start of every match, maybe for good luck.

Lilian Thuram (Center-back)

If you were asked what do you remember about Liliam Turan, what would be your answer? indeed his brace in Les Bleus’ 2-1 semi-final victory over Croatia in 1998. The French legend was born on 1 January 1972 and at a very young age started his football at club level which lasted till 2008. It was in 1994 that he began representing his country's national team and soon became a critical player on the squad. As a hard-working defender, he played a vital role in helping France with his international goals during world cup tournament. His influential performances throughout the world cup brought him the Bronze Ball as the third most valuable player in the tournament. Our fourth player on the list of

Best France XI of all time

is the one who was named third Frenchman to 100 caps, after the 1998 champions Didier Deschamps and Marcel Desailly, he is also the most capped player in the history of the France national team with 142 appearances between 1994 and 2008. 

N’golo Kanté ( Defensive- Midfielder)

Being known as one of the most industrious players, yet a tactical defensive midfielder, Kanté is the fifth Best France XI of all time despite his young age. He was born on 29 March 1991 and when he was only an 8-year-old boy, started his youth career and just in less than a decade, he could break into Chelsea. Since this young player is of African descent, just like Marcel Desailly he preferred to join the French national team. It was on  17 March 2016 as Kanté was picked for the first time to play for France senior team in friendly matches against  Netherlands and Russia. Later, on 10 June 2016, he made his first competitive match for Les Bleus in the opening match of Euro 2016 against Romania. So far, he only made 45 appearances and scored 2 goals for France, but he’s already won the World Cup with Les Bleus and won the most epic of Premiership Titles with Leicester City in 2016.  Let's move forward to see who is next as Best France XI of all time. 

Patrick Vieira ( Defensive- Midfielder)

The sixth France best XI ever is Patrick Vieira, the Golden Foot Legends Award winner in 2019. Being born on 23 June 1976 and started his football career at club level at Cannes in 1994 and later continued in

Arsenal

, AC Milan,

Juventus

, and

Manchester City

. Throughout his career, either at club level or international, he was widely known as a dominating box-to-box midfielder, remarked for his aggressive and highly competitive style of play. 

In 1997, he could break into France senior team and made his debut match against the Netherlands. In a year, he was called to join the 1998 world cup squad when he was only a twenty-two player. In the final match of the 1998 world cup against Brazil, Patrick Vieira entered the match as a substitute in the second half for Les Bleus in the Stade de France and along with his future Arsenal teammate, Emmanuel Petit helped his squad in the third goal in a 3–0 win. Following his success in the world cup, he was picked as the first choice midfield player in France's tournament at UEFA Euro 2000 which ended in favor of Les Bleus in the final match against Italy. As the beating heart of France, Patrick Vieira made a great contribution for France to win the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup and finished as the top scorer with two goals, including a winner, a header, in the final match against Japan. In 2009, Vieira hung his boots up and said goodbye to the professional world of football. 

Michel Platini ( Attacking- Midfielder)

who can be our next France's all-time greatest XI but the three-time Ballon d’Or winner, Michel Platini? Being born on 21 June 1955, Michel Platini started his senior football career in 1972 with Nancy, and then he continued his football at club levels in two other sides including

Saint-Étienne

and Juventus. Just a year after his senior club debut, in 1973, during the Coupe Gambardella, he managed to attract the attention of national team selectors so he could play in his debut national team for the junior squad on 26 September 1973.

Later he could break into the senior team and so he was selected to represent Les Bleus in the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal. As an attacking midfielder, he represented his country during the 1978 World Cup, 1982 World Cup, Euro '84, and the 1986 World Cup in Mexico. Throughout his 11-year-international tenure, his playmaking ability, and incredible vision had a remarkable impact on France national team. The great Platini was the captain of Les Bleus in 49 of his 79 appearances, scoring 41 times just before Thierry Henry broke his international scoring record.

Zinedine Zeidan  ( Attacking- Midfielder)

Zinedine Zeidan, the former attacking midfielder and the present most successful manager in the world, is the next name on our list of Les Bleus best XI of all time. Zeidan was born on 23 June 1972 and started his professional football career in 1989 with Cannes and then continued his career in

Bordeaux

, Juventus, and

Real Madrid

Zeidan was also of Algeria origin, but he chose France over Algeria. So the young Zeidan started his international debut in 1988 and soon as the player of France's squad he won the bronze medal at the 1993 Mediterranean Games in Languedoc-Roussillon. In a year, he could break into the senior team and was one of the key players of Les Bleus till 2006. Throughout all these years, he had participated in Euro 1996, 1998 World Cup, Euro 2000, 2002 World Cup, Euro 2004, and 2006 World Cup, among which he could win the FIFA World Cup in 1998, UEFA European Championship in 2000 and become the runner-up of 2006.

Raymond Kopa  ( Attacking- Midfielder)

The ninth Les Bleus best XI of all time is the one with three-time European Cups, the legendary player of Real Madrid. Raymond Kopa was born on 13 October 1931 and as he was eighteen, he started his senior football career in

Angers

and then continued it in

Reims

and Real Madrid. A few years after his club debut, in 1952 he was called to represent the France National team. Throughout his football career, he was acknowledged as one of the leading players of his generation who was famous for his free-role advanced playmaking, quickness, agility, and dribbling. It was these unique features that earned him the Ballon d'Or in 1970 and put him on the list of France all-time XI. With Les Bleus, he could score 18 goals in 45 matches in a decade, during which he participated in the 1958 FIFA World Cup in Sweden where he managed to scored four goals to help France finish third in the tournament. 

Thierry Henry (Striker)

The King of Arsenal fans is indeed one of

Best France XI of all time.

Thierry Henry was born on 17 August 1977 and once he turned twenty-three he started his senior football career in Monaco B and soon he could break into the most top-level football sides namely Juventus, Arsenal, and

Barcelona

. The twenty-year-old Henry started representing the U-20 France team and made an outstanding performance in the 1997 FIFA World Youth Championship.

All over his 13-year international tenure, he managed to gain 123 caps and score 51 goals that made him France's all-time highest scorer and second-highest appearance-maker. But the most remarkable part of his records is being the winner of both the World Cup in 1998 and the Euros in 2000. A mixture of artistic speed, dribbling, and finishing skills turned him a defensive nightmare at both international and club level which eventually made him the runner-up for the Ballon d'Or in 2003.

Just Fontaine ( Striker)

The last name on our list of France best XI of all time is Les Bleus's all-time leading World Cup scorer. Being born on 18 August 1933 and once he got seventeen he started his club career in USM Casablanca. At club level, Fontaine's most remarkable period passed in the Stade Reims during the late 1950s and early 1960s, in which he played 131 games, scored 122 goals and won three French Ligue 1 titles, just before Injury made him retire early in 28. In addition to his great performances at club level, with the blue shirt of France, he made an even more perfect record. In his debut international debut match, on  17 December 1953, he scored a hat-trick against Luxembourg. Yet, he is well remembered for his performance in the 1958 FIFA World Cup, where he scored 13 goals in just six games and also for the record which still stands, the record of the highest number of goals ever scored by one player at a single World Cup tournament that earned him the Golden Boat Award. 

What you read was our list of 11 best players in the French national team. Undoubtedly, with the emergence and flourishing of new and motivated players, such lists will change in the not too distant future. Which player do you think should be on the above list ?

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