Five Things to Know About France

Presented by Thorne

Following a dominant 3-0 win against Bolivia in Philadelphia and a last-minute 2-1 defeat to Republic of Ireland in Dublin, the fresh-faced U.S. Men’s National Team heads to Lyon for its toughest test yet – a date with FIFA World Cup heavyweights France. The sides will meet Saturday in front of an expected sellout crowd at Groupama Stadium at 3 p.m. ET (ESPN, UniMás). Here are five things to know about Les Bleus.


Champions of the 1998 FIFA World Cup, France vaunts a storied history in world football. Thierry Henry, who ended his illustrious career in M.L.S. with the New York Red Bulls, claims the top spot on Les Bleus’ goal-scoring list with 51 to his name.

The French national team began play in 1904, scored the first goal in FIFA World Cup history in 1930, and in 1988 its federation opened the Clairefontaine National Football Institute, a world-renowned training complex that has been credited with helping produce many of the nation’s top stars.

At the 1998 FIFA World Cup on home soil, a Zinedine Zidane brace led France to glory, defeating Brazil 3-0 in the Final at the Stade de France in Paris. Two cycles later, Les Bleus finished second to Italy in 2006.


The USA and France have never met in official competition, and if the U.S. scores on Saturday it will mark the team’s first goal against Les Bleus. In the last meeting between the nations, a crowd of 70,018 fans at the Stade de France witnessed substitute Loïc Rémy score a winner in the 72nd minute as France eked out a 1-0 victory. U.S. MNT captain Carlos Bocanegra earned his 99th cap in the match, after which the Yanks donated the shirts off their backs to benefit disabled U.S. military veterans.

The last time the USA played in Lyon came at the 2003 Confederations Cup, a 0-0 draw against Cameroon..




U.S. Goal Scorers


May 2, 1979

0-6 L

East Rutherford, N.J.



Oct. 10, 1979

0-3 L

Paris, France



Nov. 11, 2011

0-1 L

Saint-Denis, France




Drawn into a FIFA World Cup Qualifying group with the likes of Sweden and Netherlands, the French flexed their muscles to the tune of a 7-1-2 record to top the group and punch its ticket to Russia.

In its run-up to the 2018 FIFA World Cup later this month, Les Bleus have defeated Russia, Ireland, and most recently Italy. They did suffer a defeat to Colombia in March, wasting a two-goal lead to fall 3-2 in Paris. Against the Italians last Friday, France got goals from Samuel Umtiti, Antoine Griezmann, and Ousmane Dembélé to run out 3-1 winners against the Azzurri.

In Russia, the French are heavily favored in a group that includes Australia, Peru, and Denmark.


The names speak for themselves. This star-studded France squad will head to Russia with every intention to compete for the trophy. Led by captain Hugo Lloris of Tottenham Hotspur fame, Les Bleus boast a 23-man roster with every player competing in one of Europe’s top-five leagues and many with significant UEFA Champions League experience. Up front, France can pick and choose from a slew of attacking firepower at its disposal. Griezmann, Dembélé, Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappé create a dynamic forward group few can match.

The average age of France’s roster checks in at 26 years, 14 days – nearly three years senior to the Yanks’ 23 years, 113 days. Furthermore, France averages 25 caps, while the U.S. squad’s median is just eight senior appearances. The value of the experience the USA will gain from going toe-to-toe with giants in world football is significant as the Red, White and Blue continues to build toward the future.

France Roster (Club; Caps/Goals)
Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 0/0), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur/ENG; 97/0), Steve Mandanda (Olympique Marseille/FRA; 27/0)

DEFENDERS (8): Lucas Hernández (Atlético Madrid/ESP; 4/0), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 2/0), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City/ENG; 6/0), Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart/GER; 5/0), Adil Rami (Olympique Marseille/FRA; 35/1), Djibril Sidibé (Monaco/FRA; 16/1), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona/ESP; 18/2), Raphaël Varane (Real Madrid/ESP; 41/2)

MIDFIELDERS (6): N’Golo Kante (Chelsea/ENG; 23/1), Thomas Lemar (Monaco/FRA; 11/3), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus/ITA; 66/9), Steve Nzozi (Sevilla/ESP; 4/0), Paul Pogba (Manchester United/ENG; 53/9), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich/GER; 8/0)

FORWARDS (6): Ousmane Dembélé (Barcelona/ESP; 11/2), Nabil Fekir (Olympique Lyon/FRA; 11/2), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea/ENG; 73/31), Antoine Griezmann (Atlético Madrid/ESP; 53/20), Kylian Mbappé (Paris Saint-Germain/FRA; 14/3), Florian Thauvin (Olympique Marseille/FRA; 4/0)


Art, music, cinema, architecture, literature – the French influences on everyday life in the U.S. are vast and widely celebrated. The specific contributions of Lyon, however, might not be as well-known stateside. Walk the streets of the second-largest city in France, and in no time you’ll likely bump into one of many Michelin Star restaurants known for their stunning dishes too pretty to eat (well, at least until you snap a photo). Food lovers far and wide have flocked to the city to sample the tastings that prompted famed food critic Curnonsky to describe Lyon as the "world capital of gastronomy.” The bouchon is a traditional Lyonnais restaurant that serves local fare such as sausages, duck pâté or roast pork, along with local wines. Hungry yet? Other inventions of Lyon include the sewing machine, the license plate, and the cinematograph.