Coming into this tournament, France should be looking at between a second and sixth place finish. Aside from this competition, the French are a team with a winning tradition, and they play internationally enough to know how to play at the highest level. They won a silver medal at the 2012 Summer Paralympics. They won the 2009 European Championships, finished second at the 2005 European Championships, finished third at the 2003 and 2007 European Championships. They finished fifth at the 2006 World Championships. Early in 2014, they finished third in a home hosted four nation tournament that included Japan, Argentina and Spain. They meet Japan, Paraguay and South Korea in pool play and should easily finish in the top two spots in their pool.
This is the third time France meets Paraguay in group play. Against Paraguay at the 2006 World Championships, Paraguay dismantled France 6 – 1. At the 2002 World Championships, France and Paraguay drew 0 – 0. Against Japan, France drew 1 – 1 at the 2006 World Championships. France tied them again at the 2014 French hosted International B1 Friendly tournament. Against South Korea, France won 1 – 0 at the 2006 World Championships. France also beat South Korea 3 – 1 at the 2004 Summer Paralympics in the fifth / sixth placement match.
What is France’s record against other teams in the competition assuming they make it out of group play? Against Argentina, France has not fared well. They lose 1 – 0 at the 2002 World Championships. They also lost 3 – 0 at this year’s French hosted tournament. Against Brazil, France drew 0 – 0 at the 2012 Summer Paralympics. They later lost to Brazil 2 – 0 in the gold medal game. They lost to Brazil 4 – 1 at the 2006 World Championships. France lost 4 – 1 to Brazil at the 2002 World Championships. France has a winning history against Germany. The French played a friendly series in 2013, against Germany at home in Bonny-sur-Loire. They won both, by a score of 1 – 0. They beat Germany 1 – 0 at the 2011 European Championships. They also beat Germany 2 – 0 at the 2009 European Championships. At the 2007 European Championships, they completely dismantled Germany 7 – 0. Spain went down 2 – 0 against France at the 2012 Summer Paralympics. Frederic Villeroux scored both goals for France. Turkey lost to France 1 – 0 at the 2012 Summer Paralympics, with David Labarre scoring for France.
The team departed for Japan earlier today, after having had a training camp in October and doing a round of media appearances in November. The training camp, held at Équipe de France de Football‘s training grounds, included games against top French club sides. They also trained with some junior players. The team has stated that their goal coming into this competition is to improve on their best ever fifth place finish.
The roster includes Cécifoot Saint-Mandé players Hakim Arezki, Yvan Wouandji, Martin Baron, Fabrice Morgado, Gaël Riviere, and
and Toulouse Football Club players Arnaud Ayax and David Labarre. The head coach is Charly Simo.
One of the French players to watch for is Frederick Villeroux, who has been described as the Lionel Messi of blind football and the most complete player in the world in the game today. In all games this year, he has scored an outstanding 100+ goals just in this year’s season alone. In his 42 games this season, he has averaged 2.5 goals a game and has a shooting percentage of 80%.