Euro 2023: buoyed by a golden generation, Les Bleuets aim to repeat 88
The European U-21 Football Championship 2023 kicked off already, and you can enjoy betting on it using original betting accounts. France is one of the many nations hoping to get the title, of course, and has already begun their campaign with success against Italy (2-1) and Norway (0-1). They confirmed their qualification for the quarter-finals with a crushing victory over Switzerland (1-4), ending the phase at the top of Group D.
Sylvain Ripoll's men aim is obviously to go as far as possible and despite these 3 victories, there are still three games to be won. If the “Little Blues” are to win a competition they have not won in a long time… 35 years exactly.
The dream of a title, 35 years on
Les Bleuets' one and only European U-21 Championship came in 1988. Back then, they defeated Greece in the final. The team coached by Marc Bourrier included Laurent Blanc (voted best player of the tournament), Eric Cantona, Alain Roche, and Christophe Galtier. To date, Euro 88 is the only title won by Les Bleuets, whereas the "A" team has won two World Cups and one Euro. Subsequently, the Espoirs team contested a number of semi-finals and a final in 2002. But they never succeeded to get their hands on the trophy.
Will the current generation succeed where previous generations have failed? Since taking over in May 2017, Sylvain Ripoll has managed to achieve results with the national team. First, he successfully qualified his Bleuets for the competition after years of absence. They went all the way to the semi-finals in 2019, beaten by eventual champion Spain. Finally, in 2021, the Bleuets reached the quarter-finals, this time defeated by the Netherlands. Ripoll now has experience in the competition. He has built a squad destined to go even further.
They need to prove themselves
Some of these players, born in 2000, have a wealth of experience. On the other hand, some of them lack international experience, and have just a handful of caps under their belts. This is the case for some of this season's revelations, such as Bradley Barcola (2 caps), Loïc Badé (3) or Niels Nkounkou (2). But they'll need to be there. Of course, the European Espoirs Championship is held every two years. However, the competition flies by. Especially for the teams that are eliminated early.
The 23-man squad concocted by the former Lorient coach is made up of players who already have experience. Not only in Ligue 1 but also in the major leagues. In front of Leeds goalkeeper Illan Meslier, Mohamed Simakan (Leipzig), Pierre Kalulu (AC Milan) and Loïc Badé will be able to express their physical abilities. The midfield is made up of technical players such as Khéphren Thuram, Enzo Le Fée, Maxence Caqueret, and Michael Olise. Last but not least, the Bleuets strikers Kalimuendo, Gouiri, and this season's revelation Elye Wahi know their way around the goal.
The Bleuets' youth should not prevent them from achieving their goal. They have to prepare to face other tougher teams in their path. Holders Germany, Spain, and Portugal will be great opponents. These will all have to be overcome if Sylvain Ripoll and his men are to win a title that has eluded France for decades.
3 consecutive wins, a hopeful group stage
After their victory against Italy and Norway, the French U23 team had two objectives when they faced Switzerland in their final group match: to qualify for the quarter-finals and to develop a more attractive style of play. This was achieved with a 1-4 victory and goals from Amine Gouiri (16th s.p.), Bradley Barcola (65th), Rayan Cherki (76th), and Maxence Caqueret (81st).
The rest of the competition promises to be tougher, but the French team is determined to put in all the effort necessary to finally lift this cup after a 35-year drought. If you'd like to take advantage of the best bookmakers' betting offers of this championship, register for an original betting account.