France looking to back up U19 European win with U20 at World Cup.
FIFA U20 World Cup
29 July - 20 August 2011
Click here for fixtures
Click here for World Cup match schedule
by Samuel Philip Steinbock
After a five-year trophy drought prior to beating Spain at the 2009-10 UEFA European U19 Championship final on French soil, the boys in blue have booked their return to the FIFA U20 World Cup finals for the first time since Argentina in 2001.
France was determined to go all the way when they hosted the 2009-10 European U19 Championship Finals. By thrashing the Netherlands and Austria in the group stage and finishing top, France booked their place in Colombia 2011 with plenty of time to spare.
After seeing off Croatia in a tight semi-final, winning 2-1, France renewed their old rivalry with a Spain team featuring many of the players that had inflicted a 4-0 defeat on them in the European U17 Final two years earlier. However, they were able to exact revenge despite falling behind in the first half, with second-half goals from Arsenal striker Gilles Sunu and Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette.
Although this team doesn't boast the stars they had in 1997 with Nicolas Anelka, William Gallas, Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet all featuring, they do have Chelsea playmaker Gael Kakuta.
Attack-minded, gifted and well-drilled with it, this is a France side that enjoys their football, proven in that they scored 14 goals in their first five matches at the 2009-10 European U19 Championship finals.
Winning four continental titles at U18 level, as well as two at U19 and one in the U17 category, the European champions would appear to have every chance of securing the country's second youth world title in what is only their fourth FIFA U20 World Cup appearance.