Ranking France's Players on Their Euro 2016 Performances
Although they were beaten in the final by Portugal at Stade de France last Sunday, France’s 2016 UEFA European Championship campaign should be considered a success.
Pre-tournament, Didier Deschamps’ men were looking to better their quarter-final appearance at the World Cup in Brazil two years ago and they did that. Not only did Les Bleus go one step further than the last eight, they went two better by reaching the final.
On paper and based on the form shown by both sides in France this summer, the Henri Delaunay trophy appeared the hosts’ to lose.
However, things were not as straightforward as they seemed in the final, and Portugal surprised the French in Saint-Denis to lift their first-ever major international trophy.
There are plenty of reasons for France to feel satisfied with their Euro 2016 showing, such as Antoine Griezmann winning the Golden Boot and Best Player awards and the inspirational performances of goalkeeper and captain Hugo Lloris.
With Deschamps almost certain to remain as coach for 2018 World Cup qualification, Les Bleus will be a good bet to make another deep run in Eastern Europe in two years’ time and perhaps go all the way this time.
Six of Deschamps’ 23-man squad did not play a single minute of football in France.
Goalkeepers Steve Mandanda and Benoit Costil, defenders Christophe Jallet, Eliaquim Mangala and Lucas Digne, as well as midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin, spent their entire tournament cheering their team-mates on from the bench.
17. Anthony Martial
Up until a few weeks before the tournament started, the Manchester United starlet was thought to be a nailed-on starter in Deschamps’ team.
However, Anthony Martial found himself on the bench until the Albania match, and after a wretched first 45 minutes, his coach hauled him off.
After that, the 20-year-old did not recover and only featured fleetingly at the end of the final when it was too late to utilise his searing pace.
16. Yohan Cabaye
Previously a stalwart at international level under Deschamps, the Crystal Palace midfielder did not get his chance until the Switzerland stalemate.
Yohan Cabaye failed to make much of an impression against the Swiss, and aside from a late substitute appearance against Iceland, he did not feature again.
15. Andre-Pierre Gignac
After a prolific spell with Tigres UANL in Mexico, much was expected of Andre-Pierre Gignac at the tournament.
However, the 30-year-old was underwhelming each time he was brought on to replace Giroud, and he flopped when given the chance from the start against Switzerland in the group stage.
The sum total of Gignac’s campaign was an assist for Payet’s late second goal against Albania.
Although he hardly featured towards the end, the former Olympique de Marseille man could still have won the tournament for Les Bleus as his shot came back off the post towards the end of the regular 90 minutes against Portugal.
14. Adil Rami
It was not the best of tournaments for the Sevilla defender. Although he started as one of Deschamps’ first-choice centre-backs, thanks to Raphael Varane and Mamadou Sakho’s unavailability, Adil Rami lost his starting role due to suspension for the quarter-final and he never won it back.
The 30-year-old was relatively untested in the group stage and even managed to provide an assist for Griezmann’s opener against Albania.
13. N’Golo Kante
The tournament started well for the Leicester City revelation, but by the end, N'Golo Kante was a peripheral figure in Deschamps’ plans.
Kante started against Romania, against whom he notched an assist, and he also featured from the off against Albania.
However, he was left out against Switzerland and picked up a suspension for two yellow cards that forced him out of the Iceland win.
France hit form with a new formation against the Icelanders, and as Kante was out, he was unable to break back into the starting XI before the final.
12. Patrice Evra
Euro 2016 was mixed for Patrica Evra. On the pitch, the Juventus veteran was average at best over the entire tournament and poor in some matches, such as the opener against Romania when he conceded a penalty.
However, the 35-year-old was worth his weight in gold off the pitch, and the former France captain was extremely influential. Evra was regularly seen pre-match motivating his team-mates the way he did when he was skipper, and that is why Deschamps still trusts him implicitly.
11. Paul Pogba
Hyped up as one of the big stars of Euro 2016 before the tournament, Paul Pogba was unable to justify the hype.
The Juventus midfielder did score with a header in the 5-2 thrashing of Iceland, but that was as good as it got for the 23-year-old. His first half in the goalless draw with Switzerland was impressive, but ultimately it came to nothing.
10. Blaise Matuidi
After a slow start, the Paris Saint-Germain all-rounder grew into the tournament. Blaise Matuidi struggled for fitness in the early games and was even benched for the 0-0 draw with Switzerland in the group stages.
The 29-year-old came back stronger, though, and was a force to be reckoned with from the second half against Ireland onwards. Matuidi even chipped in with an assist for Giroud’s opener against Iceland in the quarter-finals.
9. Kingsley Coman
Kingsley Coman started Euro 2016 as a substitute but spent most of the tournament alternating between starting roles and the bench.
The Bayern Munich youngster was influential when brought on against a number of sides, notably Ireland in the round of 16, and despite being just 20 years old, he already looks to be on the verge of securing himself a regular starting role.
8. Moussa Sissoko
After pretty much sitting out the entirety of the two opening matches, Moussa Sissoko was given a chance from the start against Switzerland.
The Newcastle United man took it and impressed sufficiently to earn a starting role against Iceland. After impressing there with an energetic performance, Deschamps kept the 26-year-old in against Germany and Portugal.
As far as France were concerned in the final, Sissoko was their man of the match.
7. Samuel Umtiti
It was a summer to remember for the new Barcelona signing. Umtiti started Euro 2016 as an Olympique Lyonnais player and without a single senior international cap to his name, and he finished the tournament as a Barca man and an established member of the French starting XI.
The 22-year-old was brought in to replace the suspended Rami against Iceland and was solid enough to convince Deschamps to start him in the semi-final against Germany.
Umtiti was monstrous against the world champions and kept his place for the final and continued to look solid against the Portuguese.
6. Olivier Giroud
Overall, it was a good Euro 2016 outing for Olivier Giroud, even if the Arsenal target man struggled in a few games.
Giroud headed in the opening goal of the tournament against Romania but then did not find the net again until his quarter-final brace against Iceland.
The 29-year-old only scoring in two matches does not mean he was poor in all the others, though. In fact, the former Montpellier HSC man was vital to getting the best out of Griezmann, and his two assists for the Atletico Madrid man illustrate that.
5. Laurent Koscielny
It was a solid Euro campaign from the Arsenal defender. Laurent Koscielny rarely excelled, but he did not let the team down either and paired well with both Rami and Umtiti.
Had Varane and Sakho been available, there is a chance that the 30-year-old would not have even been one of Deschamps’ two starting central defenders.
4. Bacary Sagna
It was an unexpectedly impressive tournament from Bacary Sagna. Although the Manchester City right-back faces little competition for his place in the starting XI, with Christophe Jallet the alternative, Sagna was still one of France’s better performers.
The 33-year-old whipped in one assist for Griezmann’s equaliser against the Republic of Ireland in the round of 16 but was solid defensively and useful going forward.
Considering his age, it might have been Sagna’s last international tournament with Les Bleus. But a lack of options in that position and Evra playing on at 35 years old could mean Deschamps continues to rely on him in Russia.
3. Dimitri Payet
Without the West Ham United star’s late goals against Romania and Albania, France’s Group A could have looked drastically different.
Dmitri Payet finished the tournament with three goals and two assists so will rightly be considered one of the hosts’ star performers.
However, the 29-year-old’s momentum was stalled when he was rested for the Switzerland stalemate, and aside from a goal and an assist against Iceland in the last eight, Payet did not look the same player after the Swiss clash.
Still, the Hammers’ talisman contributed more than many in the run to the final.
2. Hugo Lloris
The captain was nothing short of inspirational throughout the tournament, and had it not been for Griezmann’s electrifying displays, the Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper may well have been France’s player of the tournament.
The Atletico Madrid man finishing above Lloris should not detract from the shot-stopper’s importance during the tournament.
Excellent saves against Romania and Germany immediately come to mind, particularly his late flying save to deny Joshua Kimmich at Stade Velodrome in the semi-final.
1. Antoine Griezmann
France’s star man, the Atletico Madrid superstar finished the tournament with six goals and two assists, which helped him to deservedly pick up both the Golden Boot and Best Player awards.
Like Pogba, Griezmann was the subject of intense pre-tournament hype, and he initially struggled to live up to it.
However, after coming on as a substitute to score against Albania, he started to pick up the pace. The round-of-16 clash with Ireland was when he truly exploded, scoring a brace to complete a second-half fightback.
Griezmann then score one and laid on two more against Iceland before another double took the French past Germany and into the semi-finals.
If the 25-year-old was not a superstar on the same level as Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo before the tournament, he has now reached that bracket.