Favoured by the hand of fate during qualifying, France will need more than good luck to make an impact in South Africa. The 1998 winners have under-performed since reaching the 2006 final and needed Thierry Henry's now infamous handball to qualify for this one. Coached by the unpopular Raymond Domenech, who will quit after the tournament, Les Bleus have their problems. They were emphatically beaten at home by Spain in March and more recently, there has been the scandal involving players being interviewed by police investigating a prostitution network in Paris.
Current champions Italy arrived at the last World Cup caught in the corruption scandal that engulfed Serie A and there would be a certain irony if France were able to draw strength from their own controversial build-up. The French players must unite. "They must be clever and forget their ego to realise that the only thing that matters is the team, not them," Domenech said.
Aim: World Cup finalists last time out, France would probably consider anything less than a semi-final spot a disappointment, despite their woeful qualifying campaign. A potential quarter-final clash with England awaits.
THREE KEY PLAYERS
HUGO LLORIS A highly-rated goalkeeper who represented his country at all levels and was vital in helping Lyon on their run to this year's Champions League semi-finals. After starting the World Cup qualifying campaign as second choice behind Steve Mandanda, Lloris is the undisputed number one.
YOANN GOURCUFF Considered to be the natural heir to Zinedine Zidane, the 23-year-old Bordeaux playmaker made his international debut in 2008 and was in inspirational form during qualification, which included a 30-yard equaliser against Romania - his first goal for France and one that is credited with saving Domenech's job.
NICOLAS ANELKA The Chelsea striker has slowly matured into France's top goalscorer during the last three years, having been ignored for their home World Cup in 1998, Korea/Japan in 2002 and Germany 2006. He hit 15 goals in 44 games this season as the London Premier League side claimed a historic double.
RAYMOND DOMENECH Despised by the French public and press, and reportedly not too popular with the players. He bizarrely proposed to his girlfriend live on TV after a dismal Euro 2008 exit and admits astrology is a factor in team selection. The 58-year-old replaced Jacques Santini after Euro 2004 and led Les Bleus to the World Cup final but suffered a shocking Euro 2008 and they were almost as poor during World Cup qualification.
ADOPT THEM BECAUSE...
Darth Vader, Freddy Krueger, Lex Luthor - baddies are always more fun. Buy a French shirt and a Thierry Henry mask and head down to your local Irish pub.
HOW THEY QUALIFIED
France's World Cup qualifying highlights
L 3-1 Austria (A) W 2-1 Serbia (H) D 2-2 Romania (A) W 0-1 Lithuania (A) W 1-0 Lithuania (H) W 1-0 Faroe Islands (A) D 1-1 Romania (H) D 1-1 Serbia (A) W 5-0 Faroe Islands (H) W 3-1 Austria (H) Finished second behind Serbia
Play-off W 0-1 Rep Ireland (A) D 1-1 Rep Ireland (H) after extra time
WORLD CUP BEST
1998: Aime Jacquet oversaw France's maiden win in front of their delirious home fans, defeating Brazil 3-0 at the Stade de France in Paris.
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