France crossed a new threshold in qualifying for the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa™, having never before graced the finals on four consecutive occasions. Les Bleus have become a regular presence in recent years, having earned a reputation as one of world football’s leading teams since the late 1990s. Their fine displays at the first edition in 1930 marked them out as a good side and they have occasionally produced legendary talents, but only in the last decade or so have they evolved into a team that starts every major tournament with serious hopes of winning it.
The generation of players that included Zinedine Zidane, Laurent Blanc, Didier Deschamps and Fabien Barthez finally found a way past the obstacles that had blocked the route of earlier vintages. The fine team featuring Michel Platini, Alain Giresse, Luis Fernandez and Jean Tigana had stumbled at the semi-final stage in 1982 and 1986, but their successors went all the way to lifting the Trophy in 1998.
Despite a drop in standards in 2002 and 2006, France still came agonisingly close to grasping a second global title in the latter tournament, only losing out on penalties to Italy in the Final. The Zidane chapter came to a close that night in Berlin, but Les Bleus can still call upon some of the biggest names in world football, with a seemingly endless production line of young talents having unearthed the likes of Franck Ribery, Karim Benzema and Yoann Gourcuff in recent seasons.
The road to South Africa