France

France will participate in their twelfth FIFA World Cup Finals after finishing top of their 2006 World Cup qualifying group. The 1998 World Cup winners will be making a third consecutive FIFA World Cup Finals appearance in Germany this northern summer.

France has struggled on the international stage since their 1998 World Cup Final win over Brazil on home soil. A 4-0 win over Cyprus in their final qualifying matches secured top place for Les Bleus who struggled throughout the qualifying campaign drawing twice against lesser lights Israel and Switzerland and once against the Republic of Ireland.

Coach Raymond Domenech needed to call on Zinedine Zidane, Lilian Thuram and Claude Makelele to come out of retirement to help a struggling side qualify for Germany.

Too many players past their useby date in this team with the draws in qualifying speaking volumes.

Thierry Henry is the one ace in the deck for coach Raymond Domenech but the Arsenal hitman has failed to live up to expectations at either the 2002 World Cup Finals or the 2004 European Championships.

France is another to enjoy a kind draw. On paper France should progress safely into the second round. A shock exit will finally bring the curtain down on what was a great era in French Football that culminated in European and World Cup glory.