The double-double of World Cup and European Championships: they did it in 1998 and 2000... but can they do it in 2018 and 2020?
France could be the first country to achieve this twice. None of their biggest rivals -- Germany, Spain, Italy -- has been able, but France will never have a better opportunity to do it than this summer. The Zinedine Zidane and Didier Deschamps generation in 1998 was great, a team built around collective spirit over individual stars, and they won the World Cup with no prolific striker and an incredible defence. In 2000, however, they were at their peak and added individual brilliance to their strength; with Thierry Henry, Nicolas Anelka, Youri Djorkaeff and David Trezeguet, they finally had a wonderful attacking line.
There are many similarities with the team of 1998/2000 and this group, anchored by Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and, beyond them, the Kylian Mbappe generation. Deschamps is the common thread and Les Bleus have never looked so strong.
This team has the DNA of its head coach, like 1998 had with Aime Jacquet, one of Deschamps' mentors. Deschamps is first and foremost a pragmatic, conservative manager. His team will defend well and be well-drilled. He is also astute. After five years and 237 days without Karim Benzema since their falling-out over the Mathieu Valbuena scandal, the France boss eventually called him back in May to make this squad even stronger. At 33, the Real Madrid striker is in the best form of his life. He's coming off another great season in Spain (23 goals, 9 assists in La Liga) and he's hungrier than ever after missing on the success of 2018 and the near-success of 2016.
No other team at the Euros has this much talent up front. There's a bit of everything: pace, efficiency, power, skills, strength, height, intelligence, nous. Mbappe is this team's Henry. Benzema plays like Anelka, a goal scorer who liked to drop deep and organise the play. Antoine Griezmann is a bit of everyone. Olivier Giroud is like Trezeguet, a poacher and a box player. Ousmane Dembele, Kingsley Coman and Wissam Ben Yedder can start or come off the bench, bringing speed, close control and more goals.
Then there's N'Golo Kante. The Champions League final Man of the Match is the best midfielder in the world heading into the Euros, and one of the best players at any position. He brings so much to this team in terms of effort, work rate and intelligence in defense or attack; his partnership with Pogba will be key for the French doing well, as it was in 2018.
In 2016, France were favourites to win the Euros, but lost to a Portugal side without Cristiano Ronaldo. In 2018, they were favourites again and won the World Cup. They are used to the pressure and to the expectations. The fact that they can make more history by doing the double-double will certainly not hamper them; if anything, it'll spur them on even more.