With Saturday's Euro 2024 group-stage draw done and dusted, Europe's elite know what awaits them in Germany next year and all eyes will turn to the opening game in Munich on June 14.

Steve Clarke's Scotland will be Germany's first opponents as they kickstart their bid to become the first sole host nation to win the tournament since France in 1984.

Elsewhere, England can be content with a somewhat kind draw as Jude Bellingham, Harry Kane and company look to bring football home, while Group B looks set to earn the title of 'group of death', with defending champions Italy pitted against Spain and Croatia.

As fans across the continent begin plotting their nations' routes to the final, to be held in Berlin on July 14, Stats Perform runs through the best facts and figures from each of the six groups. 

Group A: Germany, Hungary, Scotland, Switzerland

Germany have endured a troubled build-up to their home tournament, with Julian Nagelsmann parachuted in after the dismissal of Hansi Flick in September. The last Germany boss to win a major tournament at his first attempt was Jupp Derwall, who led the team (then West Germany) to Euro 1980 glory.

They will face a familiar foe in the form of Switzerland, who they will meet for the 54th time in senior internationals – no other team has faced Germany as often, but the teams have never met at the Euros before.

Germany's matchday one opponents will be Scotland, who will be making their fourth appearance at the Euros after also qualifying in 1992, 1996 and 2020. They have never reached the knockout stages. 

However, they may fancy their chances of edging out Switzerland and Hungary in what could be a battle for second place this time around. Hungary took bronze when they first appeared at the Euros in 1964, but they have only won one of their nine games at the tournament since then (four draws, four defeats), beating Austria in the 2016 group stage.

Group B: Spain, Albania, Croatia, Italy)

All eyes will be on Group B ahead of the tournament, with three-time winners Spain drawn alongside defending champions Italy – who they beat in the 2012 final – and 2022 World Cup bronze medallists Croatia. 

Excluding penalty shoot-outs, La Roja have only lost two of their last 22 matches at the Euros, winning 13 and drawing seven. The last two teams to beat them? Croatia and Italy in 2016.

Spain are the only nation to win back-to-back editions of the Euros, doing so in 2008 and 2012. Luciano Spalletti's Italy are looking to replicate that feat, having inched past Ukraine to claim second place in their qualification group.

The Azzurri have now qualified for eight successive editions of the tournament, though this is the first time they have reached a major competition while losing two or more games in their qualifying group, having been beaten home and away by England.

While Spain and Italy will feel unfortunate to have landed in such a difficult group, the omens are good for teams that face Croatia when it matters. They have lost to the eventual winners at four of their last six major tournaments, being beaten by Spain at Euro 2012, Portugal at Euro 2016, France at the 2018 World Cup, and Argentina in Qatar last year.

GROUP C: England, Denmark, Slovenia, Serbia

Gareth Southgate may be relieved to have avoided some of the heavy hitters with England landing in Group C, where they will start against Serbia on June 16 before taking on Denmark and Slovenia.

England's rematch with Denmark – who they beat in the Euro 2020 semi-finals – could be decisive in the battle for top spot. The Three Lions are unbeaten in all three of their meetings with Denmark at Euros/World Cups (two wins, one draw), with Switzerland the only team they have faced as often at tournaments without ever losing.

With Kane thriving at Bayern Munich and Bellingham a former star at Borussia Dortmund, two of the Three Lions' star players are no strangers to German turf.

 

They also have an excellent record against Slovenia, winning five and drawing one of the teams' six all-time meetings. The only one of those games to take place at a major tournament came at the 2010 World Cup, when Jermain Defoe hit the winner in a 1-0 victory for Fabio Capello's team.

Serbia, meanwhile, will be featuring at the Euros for the first time as an independent nation. They competed as Yugoslavia or FR Yugoslavia in five editions, finishing as runners-up in 1960 and 1968.

Group D: France, Austria, Netherlands, play-off winner A

With Kylian Mbappe spearheading their star-studded team, France head to the Euros among the favourites. Boss Didier Deschamps captained his country to glory at Euro 2000, and he could become the first person to win the competition as both a player and a head coach.

Les Bleus, however, face a tough set of opponents in Group D, none more so than the Netherlands.

France have faced the Oranje more often at the Euros without ever winning than they have any other side, losing their last two such matches against them at the 2000 and 2008 tournaments.

Ronald Koeman might be pleased to see his team drawn alongside Austria, with the Netherlands winning their last seven matches against them, averaging 2.9 goals per game throughout that run (20 in total).

The final team in Group D will be decided via the play-offs in March, with Wales, Finland, Poland and Estonia vying for a ticket to Germany. France have met any of those nations at the Euros.

Group E: Belgium, Romania, Slovakia, play-off winner B

Belgium headline Group E, with Domenico Tedesco at the wheel as the last members of the Red Devils' so-called golden generation look to finally deliver on their promise.

Since losing to West Germany in the final of Euro 1980, Belgium have never reached the semi-finals of the tournament, being knocked out in the last eight at each of the last two editions – versus Wales in 2016 and Italy at Euro 2020.

They will be content with a kind-looking draw, with Romania the team drawn into Group E from pot two. Their win ratio of just six per cent at the Euros is the worst of any nation to qualify for more than one edition, winning just once in 16 games at the tournament. 

Slovakia, meanwhile, have only won two of their seven games at Euro tournaments (one draw, four defeats), also failing to score in four of their last five games.

Ukraine, Israel, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Iceland will battle for the final spot in this group in March.

GROUP F: Portugal, Turkiye, Czech Republic, play-off winner C

Group F contains 2016 winners Portugal, the only team to reach the knockout stages of the last seven editions of the Euros, a run that stretches back to the 1996 tournament. In fact, they have always progressed from the group stages in their eight previous appearances at the Euros.

Cristiano Ronaldo seems set to be sticking around for this tournament. He will be 39 by the time it rolls around. The Al Nassr attacker holds the records for most games (25) and most goals (14) at the Euros, has also managed a joint-record six assists (since records began in 1972).

Ronaldo's 20 total goal involvements at the Euros are twice as many as any other player since assist records began, with Michel Platini second on 10 (nine goals, one assist).

Roberto Martinez's team open their campaign against the Czech Republic, who are featuring at an eighth successive edition of the Euros (including appearances as Czechoslovakia). Only Germany (14) and France (nine) are currently on longer runs of consecutive appearances.

One of Georgia, Greece, Kazakhstan and Luxembourg will join Turkiye in rounding out the group. They are looking to improve on their dismal showing at Euro 2020, and have qualified for three successive editions of the Euros for the first time. However, they have lost six of their last seven matches at the tournament (one win).

France coach Didier Deschamps claimed "it's not as bad as 2021" after Les Bleus discovered their Euro 2024 group-stage opponents.

Deschamps' team were drawn into Group D during Saturday's draw in Hamburg.

France will face Austria, the Netherlands – who they beat twice in qualifying – and one of Poland, Wales, Finland or Estonia.

Les Bleus disappointed at the delayed Euro 2020 in 2021, going out to Switzerland on penalties in the last 16.

That was after they edged through a challenging group which included Hungary, Germany and Portugal.

"It's going to be difficult," Deschamps told TMC.

"The pot three team we'll be facing is the Netherlands. We won both our games against them [in qualifying] but it makes our group harder.

"We also faced Austria during the latest Nations League campaign and it was far from easy. We don't know yet our last opponent. But it's a difficult group.

"It's not as bad as in 2021. But we need to be ready from the start. If everything goes our way, we may able to manage our third game, it will be for the best."

Didier Deschamps was not surprised by Mike Maignan's superb save in France's 1-0 win over Republic of Ireland, which he described as "worth a goal".

Milan goalkeeper Maignan preserved France's victory in the Euro 2024 qualifier with a sensational late stop, somehow clawing away Nathan Collins' goal-bound header.

That save followed him keeping out a penalty in France's 4-0 win over the Netherlands in their opening Group B clash, with Maignan quickly justifying his promotion to France's number one between the posts following Hugo Lloris' international retirement.

Having seen his side claim six points from two games, Deschamps was left with plenty to smile about as he reflected on their excellent start, including the shot-stopping prowess of Maignan.

"There is a lot of positive with six points, five goals and none conceded," said Deschamps in quotes reported by L'Equipe. 

"The calendar had not given us gifts with the Netherlands and Ireland. We were less radiant today than Friday. We had fewer opportunities but we have to win these matches.

"The team showed a very good state of mind and character. There is Mike's stop. It's worth a goal. We were able to answer and being less brilliant than in the first game. Ireland defended well. I am happy and proud of this group against two opponents like that. It's really good to have already taken these six points."

Of Maignan's save, he added: "It's an exceptional stop. But I'm not surprised. I know what he is capable of doing. Hugo was also capable of such stops of his kind. Mike has all the qualities, the wingspan and the mind. He is a leader.

"There was already the penalty stopped against the Netherlands. But this stop is even more expensive. I had no doubts and uncertainties about the succession. When Mike is in full possession of his means, he is of a very high level."

Prior to Maignan's save, Benjamin Pavard scored what proved the decisive with a rasping strike from outside the area that flew in off the crossbar.

Pavard's goal marked his first appearance for France since their opening game of the 2022 World Cup against Australia.

"He had a very complicated match at the beginning of the World Cup," Deschamps said of Pavard. 

"He had been a starter in previous years. He played the first game and Jules [Kounde] took his place.

"After this goal, I told him that I was very happy for him. Despite his personal disappointment, he has always kept the state of mind.

"He enjoyed his playing time in his club. It's very good for him and especially for the group."

Didier Deschamps expects Kylian Mbappe to continue breaking France records but knows a Republic of Ireland generation inspired by teenage talisman Evan Ferguson pose a threat.

Les Bleus thrashed the Netherlands 4-0 in their opening Euro 2024 qualifier and will be confident of claiming another three points in Dublin on Monday.

New captain Mbappe hit a double against the Dutch, taking him to 38 international goals and fifth on France's all-time scoring charts – just three shy of the great Michel Platini (41).

Mbappe has scored half of those in his last 16 outings, as many as in his first 51 games, Deschamps suggests there is no limit for the 24-year-old.

"It's Kylian, he's full of ambitions. When he reaches one, he has another to reach," Deschamps said at a press conference.

"He reached and exceeded quite a few very early on. He has that in him. He has a driving role compared to the whole group.

"He will do everything to get there, he will need the others, but it's Kylian."

France have won their last four qualifying matches, for both the World Cup and Euros, by an aggregate score of 16-0.

Les Bleus have not managed five qualifying victories without conceding since doing so between November 1981 and December 1984, but they face an Ireland side buoyed by a young prospect of their own.

Ferguson scored on his first international start in a 3-2 win over Latvia and could become the first Ireland player to net in consecutive appearances before turning 19.

The Brighton and Hove Albion striker has been a hot topic of discussion, with Deschamps acknowledging the danger the 18-year-old might offer.

"It goes back to [Euro] 2016. I remember that we were trailing 1-0 [in the round of 16 before winning 2-1] and that it was complicated," Deschamps said.

"But there is a new generation with Ferguson. It is always very difficult to compare."

Ireland have lost just three of their last 30 Euros qualifying games (W14 D13) and are unbeaten in their last 14 on home soil (W8 D6), including play-off fixtures.

That strong home form is a factor Deschamps knows France must deal with.

He continued: "They are a technical team. From what I have seen, they use less direct play and long balls. It will be a different game, with the crowd pushing as well.

"It's a high level and it's up to us to do no less."

Didier Deschamps says Antoine Griezmann's disappointment at being overlooked as France captain for Kylian Mbappe "lasted two minutes".

It actually took less than two minutes for Mbappe to provide an assist for Griezmann to set France on their way to a 4-0 win against the Netherlands on Friday to make a strong start to their Euro 2024 qualifying campaign at the Stade de France.

Deschamps had announced Mbappe – who also scored twice after Dayot Upamecano had found the net – as his new captain ahead of Griezmann, but said at a post-match press conference that there are no issues between the two.

"Fortunately, I don't know what is said and written. The two get along well, they work well and they have the same objective of seeing the French team perform well," he said. 

"Antoine's disappointment lasted two minutes. There is not the slightest problem, like the whole group. Everyone gave off positive vibes."

Mbappe completed the scoring in the 88th minute, though the Netherlands won a penalty in stoppage time, only for Mike Maignan to save from Memphis Depay.

While Mbappe replaced Hugo Lloris as captain after his retirement, Maignan was playing his first game since being confirmed as Lloris' replacement as France's new first-choice goalkeeper, and Deschamps was in no doubt about the decision.

"It's Mike. I didn't have to ask myself the question," he said. "He was injured but whether it was his qualities as a goalkeeper or his mentality... total confidence. It went very well for him. Mike has everything to take over [from Lloris]."

France had a 3-0 lead after just 21 minutes, having not led so early in a game since December 1953 when they beat Luxembourg 8-0, and had a 2-0 lead by the 10th minute.

"I don't know [if it was a perfect evening], but [it was] a very nice evening," Deschamps said. "The start was very good, efficient... We managed in the second half while continuing to be dangerous. That Mike stopped this penalty at the end ended the evening well."

Deschamps also said there could be changes for Monday's second Group B game away at the Republic of Ireland, adding: "It will be another fight for us to fight."

Didier Deschamps insisted pleasing Kylian Mbappe played no part in his decision to make the Paris Saint-Germain star France captain.

Hugo Lloris' retirement vacated the France captaincy, with Mbappe named as the new skipper earlier this week ahead of Euro 2024 qualifiers against the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland.

Mbappe revealed on Thursday that Antoine Griezmann, one of France's longest-serving players, was disappointed by the decision, though Deschamps refuted the suggestion he made the call to appease the 24-year-old, who won the Golden Boot at last year's World Cup.

"It's not a choice to make him happy, but because I am convinced that he has all the qualities to do so," Deschamps said in a press conference.

"I'm not going to go into details. You know how it went chronologically. I made the decision on Monday evening. Kylian has been used to being in this group for a while.

"He won't be alone. The most important thing is that it's not an extra burden for Kylian."

 

Indeed, Deschamps has no concerns that becoming captain will be too much responsibility for Mbappe, who has scored 31 goals in 33 games for PSG this season.

"Being captain of the France team is a responsibility, but Kylian, when he is on the pitch, he thinks about what he has to do on the pitch," Deschamps continued.

"It comes naturally. There is no advice to give to him, Kylian knows."

When asked if Mbappe would have to become less selfish or alter his game as captain, Deschamps added: "That a striker can create individual actions, that's part of the role of a striker. It's not selfishness. He doesn't have to change."

Lloris' retirement has also opened an opportunity for a new goalkeeper to confirm themselves as number one.

While Alphonse Areola and Lens' Brice Samba – one of the best-performing goalkeepers in Ligue 1 this term – have been included in Deschamps' squad, Mike Maignan is Lloris' heir apparent.

"Mike is used to it, he has already played [France] matches," Deschamps said. "He cannot replace Hugo's experience overnight.

"He has overcome his injury problems. I don't have the slightest doubt, I have total confidence in him. He has everything to be at this level."

Kylian Mbappe revealed Antoine Griezmann was disappointed to have been overlooked for the France captaincy, but insisted he is not superior to any other player in the squad.

France head coach Didier Deschamps confirmed on Tuesday that Mbappe will take the armband from Hugo Lloris – who retired from international football in January – with Griezmann named as the Paris Saint-Germain star's deputy.

Mbappe has earned 66 caps for Les Blues, compared to Griezmann's 117, though the Atletico Madrid forward is eight years his senior.

Reports from France this week suggested Griezmann did not take the news well, feeling he was better suited to the role, and Mbappe can understand why his team-mate was upset at the decision.

"I spoke with Antoine. He was disappointed and it's understandable," Mbappe said at a press conference on Thursday. "I told him that I would have had the same reaction.

"He is perhaps the player who has been the most important in the Deschamps era. But I am not his superior. We will be hand in hand, he and I, to try to make this French team reign at world level. 

"If he has something to say in front of the group, I will sit down and listen. We must not close the door to anyone. Everyone is free to express themselves."

Mbappe's first assignment as skipper will be Friday's opening Euro 2024 qualifier against the Netherlands at the Stade de France.

Explaining his decision to hand the armband to Mbappe, Deschamps said the superstar attacker "ticks all the boxes" to lead the team, explaining that Griezmann is more than willing to play his part.

"I had discussions [with Griezmann], but I will not go into details," he told reporters. "I can assure you that Antoine, since Monday has been smiling.

"That he was disappointed at the time, it is legitimate. But that stopped there.

"From what I see, everyone has the same objective in relation to the group. Antoine is vice-captain; he has an important role as he always had.

"He is radiant, whether it be in the sessions or in the group."

Mbappe, who has also occasionally captained PSG, does not believe the new role will alter the way he plays.

"I'm not going to change," he said. "I will always do what my coach asks me. A good captain is someone focused on the team, who is able to unite.

"It's beyond cool. I'm captain of my country. It's a new responsibility for me which I will assume naturally. It won't change the way I play, but maybe the way I behave."

Didier Deschamps backed Kylian Mbappe to bring a "unifying" influence to his new role as captain of France.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward was the outstanding candidate to replace Hugo Lloris, who retired from international duty after the World Cup.

Mbappe was reportedly told of his appointment by coach Deschamps after a dinner on Monday, and Antoine Griezmann has been confirmed as vice-captain.

Reports said Griezmann, who turned 32 on Tuesday, was disappointed not to be handed the captaincy, having been a mainstay of the team for many years.

However, Mbappe is himself richly experienced on the international stage after making his debut as an 18-year-old some six years ago. He has gone on to score 36 goals in 66 appearances.

Twelve of those goals have come in World Cups, with Mbappe helping France win the 2018 tournament before their runner-up finish at Qatar 2022, where he won the Golden Boot.

Deschamps told French broadcaster TF1: "Kylian Mbappe is the new captain of Les Blues. Antoine Griezmann is the vice-captain.

"Kylian ticks all the boxes to have this responsibility. On the field as in group life, by being a unifying element."

Mbappe will lead the team into their Euro 2024 qualifiers, which start against the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland this fortnight.

His first game as skipper will be against the Dutch on Friday at the Stade de France.

France's squad gathered at their Clairefontaine training base on Monday. They trained on Tuesday with the crucial question of who might be captain having been resolved.

Kylian Mbappe will be the new captain of France after getting the nod from Didier Deschamps, reports said on Tuesday.

The Paris Saint-Germain forward was the outstanding candidate to replace Hugo Lloris, who retired after the World Cup.

Mbappe is said to have been told of his appointment by coach Deschamps after a dinner on Monday, with Antoine Griezmann to be vice-captain.

The French Football Federation did not immediately confirm the news, but the secret appears to be out.

The appointment means Mbappe will lead the team into their Euro 2024 qualifiers, which start against the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland this fortnight.

His first game as skipper will be against the Dutch on Friday at the Stade de France.

The 24-year-old has been a member of the national team since his teens, making his debut as an 18-year-old against Luxembourg, and has earned 66 caps, scoring 36 goals.

Former Monaco player Mbappe was a World Cup winner in 2018, and from a small field of potential candidates for the captaincy he stood out a mile.

Long-standing skipper Lloris stepped down from national team duty after France lost to Argentina in the World Cup final, when Mbappe's hat-trick was not enough to stave off a defeat on penalties.

France's squad gathered at their Clairefontaine training base on Monday ahead of the European qualifying double-header, their first gathering since returning from the Qatar 2022 near-miss.

Kylian Mbappe has the communication qualities to be France captain, but Didier Deschamps will not take his recent appearance as Paris Saint-Germain skipper into account when deciding who will succeed Hugo Lloris.

Lloris' retirement from international football has left Les Bleus in need of a new captain, with Mbappe receiving the backing of the goalkeeper.

Speaking to Telefoot last week, Lloris said: "There is one player that is becoming more powerful in every aspect on and off the pitch and even in the functioning of the dressing room – it's Kylian Mbappe."

France face Netherlands in qualifying for Euro 2024 on Friday, and Deschamps faced repeated questions about the identity of the new captain in his press conference on Monday.

"I'm going to use these first few days with the group to discuss it with the players concerned," said Deschamps, having offered a similar reply last week.

"Obviously, Kylian is one of those players. So, you'll know a bit more the next time I see you. In other words, the day before the game, on Thursday.

"I think if he [Mbappe] has one quality, in addition to all his other qualities, it's that he's someone who is pretty good, very good at communication. So, I don't think that's a problem on that side. But, well, I can't tell you any more because I haven't decided today."

Mbappe was PSG captain on Sunday as they suffered a surprise 2-0 defeat at home to Rennes.

Deschamps added: "I have a habit, and it is not now that I will change, for each player when they are in their club, I do not have the ins and outs.

"Of course, I watch the games. But Kylian's situation or any player's situation at club level is not the same as the one he has here with the national team, so it will not be a way for me to choose.

"It involves more thorough discussions. There are different forms of captaincy. It's a responsibility, he's put forward. There are different forms or rather possibilities, with some players more or less expressive.

"I'm not going to look at the details because you also have to take into account the situation in which the club may find itself. These are elements that I don't have. It's not my daily routine.

"So, that's the responsibility of Christophe Galtier, his staff and his club. That's not part of my thinking."

Didier Deschamps wants to put a lid on the public spat with Karim Benzema that has rumbled on since the World Cup.

France head coach Deschamps lost Benzema from his Qatar 2022 squad on the eve of the tournament when the Ballon d'Or winner and Real Madrid captain suffered a thigh injury.

According to Deschamps, Benzema said he would not be able to return to the France camp to take part in the latter stages of the tournament.

As it turned out, Benzema was back in training with Madrid in early December, and that led to speculation he might make a dramatic return for Les Bleus, as they chased a successful trophy defence.

That did not happen, with Benzema absent as France lost on penalties to Argentina in the final on December 18.

Deschamps told Le Parisien this month that he had spoken with Benzema after the striker had an MRI scan after his injury blow, and the then 34-year-old declared his World Cup hopes to be over.

According to Deschamps, the coach told Benzema there was no need to rush his departure, but the next day he made an early exit.

"When I wake up, I learn that he is gone," Deschamps said in the newspaper interview. "It's his decision, he won't tell you otherwise, I understand and respect it."

Benzema, who announced his international retirement on the day after the World Cup final, also his 35th birthday, swiftly attempted to counter Deschamps' version of events.

He responded in a series of posts on his Instagram stories, posting a clown emoji alongside the comment: "What audacity."

In another message, he posted "Sacred Didier" alongside a video of a well-known French social media figure repeatedly accusing someone of being a "liar".

Speaking on TF1 show Telefoot on Sunday, Deschamps refused to nudge the saga along.

Deschamps said: "I am not in the controversy. I needed to speak to say what had happened. But that is a thing of the past for me."

Benzema was set to be involved for Real Madrid against Barcelona in Sunday's LaLiga Clasico at Camp Nou, and he will then have a break while internationals take place over the coming fortnight.

It was claimed by RMC Sport on Sunday that Benzema will play no part when France mark a number of international retirements on Friday, when Les Blues host the Netherlands in a Euro 2024 qualifier.

Those whose careers for Les Bleus are expected to be celebrated include Hugo Lloris, Raphael Varane and Steve Mandanda.

Meanwhile, France have lost two players for the Netherlands game and a trip to face the Republic of Ireland on the following Monday, with Arsenal's William Saliba and Chelsea's Wesley Fofana pulling out of the squad due to injury.

Monaco's Axel Disasi and Nice's Jean-Clair Todibo have been called up as replacements.

Didier Deschamps has expressed concern about how the coach of the France women's team was ousted from power after a player revolt.

Three players, led by captain Wendie Renard, went public by stating they would not play on for Les Bleus under the then-existing regime.

The French Football Federation (FFF) elected to sack Diacre on March 9 after acknowledging her relationship with players had "reached a point of no return which harms the interests of the national team".

It was a decision that ended a sometimes controversial reign, with the move coming ahead of France competing at this year's Women's World Cup, which takes place in July and August in Australia and New Zealand.

Deschamps has never faced such a situation, but he appears to have reservations about how the saga played out.

"I'm laughing, but I don't want to laugh about it," he said in a France men's team press conference on Thursday. "I have to weigh every word. I don't have the ins and outs.

"After the decision… I don't know if it was a good one or a less bad one or whatever.

"There is the substance and the form. As a coach, trainer, the form [of how it happened] bothers me. I will not say more, but you will have understood me."

Kylian Mbappe is a leading candidate to become captain of France, head coach Didier Deschamps confirmed on Thursday.

Deschamps will need a new skipper for the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers against the Netherlands and the Republic of Ireland after Hugo Lloris retired from international football.

Lloris stepped down from national team duty after the World Cup, where France lost to Argentina in the final, and tournament top scorer Mbappe is considered to have leadership qualities.

"There are some that I consider possible," said Deschamps. "Kylian is one of them.

"This will go through discussions with them before I make my decision. There is a responsibility in relation to being captain, with a little more important responsibility, but I want to have this discussion internally before I make my decision."

Deschamps cast doubt on Adrien Rabiot being in the picture to lead Les Bleus.

He said of the Juventus midfielder: "Even if he has some experience, we know him well, as it is he has a possible form of leadership. But the captaincy, I don't know if he really wants it deep down. To let him stay as he is already will be very good."

Deschamps left out Axel Disasi and Matteo Guendouzi as he named a 23-player group for the games at home to the Dutch on March 24 and away to the Irish on March 27.

He could hand first caps to Chelsea defender Wesley Fofana, Nice midfielder Khephren Thuram and Lens goalkeeper Brice Samba, who all earned call-ups.

Khephren Thuram joins brother Marcus in the squad, with the sons of France great Lilian in contention to feature alongside each other in the national side.

Deschamps summoned Milan veteran Olivier Giroud, with the 36-year-old having elected not to retire from France duty after the World Cup, where he became the team's all-time record scorer.

"As long as he maintains his level of performance with his club and remains eligible for selection, he is there," Deschamps said.

A string of players Deschamps could have called upon are sidelined due to injury, including Ousmane Dembele, Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kante and Christopher Nkunku.

Deschamps said of Pogba and Kante: "I always remain positive and knowing NG and Paul, they will do everything to become competitive again."

Looking at the qualification task facing France, Deschamps said: "We must not tell ourselves that we are already qualified for the Euros because we were in the final of the World Cup. We must not rest on our laurels."

France squad:

Alphonse Areola (West Ham), Mike Maignan (Milan), Brice Samba (Lens); Eduardo Camavinga (Real Madrid), Wesley Fofana (Chelsea), Theo Hernandez (Milan), Ibrahima Konate (Liverpool), Jules Kounde (Barcelona), Benjamin Pavard (Bayern Munich), William Saliba (Arsenal), Dayot Upamecano (Bayern Munich); Youssouf Fofana (Monaco), Adrien Rabiot (Juventus), Aurelien Tchouameni (Real Madrid), Khephren Thuram (Nice), Jordan Veretout (Marseille); Kingsley Coman (Bayern Munich), Moussa Diaby (Bayer Leverkusen), Olivier Giroud (Milan), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Randal Kolo Muani (Eintracht Frankfurt), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Marcus Thuram (Borussia Monchengladbach).

Raphael Varane has announced his retirement from international football, saying it is time for France's "new generation" to take over.

Varane, who made his France debut in March 2013, made 93 appearances for Les Bleus.

The former Real Madrid centre-back, who joined Manchester United in 2021, played and started in all seven games of France's successful 2018 World Cup campaign.

Despite heading into last year's World Cup with an injury, Varane featured in six of France's matches in Qatar, including in the final against Argentina.

On Wednesday, Varane shared an Instagram post confirming his retirement from the international stage.

"Representing our great country for a decade has been one of the greatest honours of my life," Varane wrote.

"Every time I wore this very special blue jersey I felt immense pride. The duty to give it [my] all, play my heart out and win every time we went on the field. I've been contemplating this for several months and decided it's the right time for me to retire.

"As a child, I remember following France 98, this team, these players who made us experience indescribable emotions. I dreamed of being our heroes and 20 years later I lived one of the best experiences of my life.

"We brought home the World Cup!! I will never forget it. I still feel every single one of the emotions felt on that day, July 15, 2018. That was one of the most amazing and memorable moments of my life.


"This victory that we won all together would never have been possible without the support of [coach] Didier Deschamps, every member of the management and staff over the years, and my team-mates who have defended our shirt in every game we played.

"But more importantly, this victory would not have been possible without every single one of you supporting us along the way. Even after the defeat in the final last year, you welcomed us as heroes when we returned. To each and every one of you, THANK YOU a thousand times!

"I will miss these moments with you for sure, but the time has come for the new generation to take over. We have a bunch of talented young players who are ready to take over, who deserve a chance and who need you."

Varane, who captained his country 20 times, is the fourth member of France's 2018 World Cup squad to retire from international football, after Blaise Matuidi, Steve Mandanda and former captain Hugo Lloris.

Karim Benzema did not make that squad but was set to feature in Qatar until injury derailed his chances. The Ballon d'Or winner announced his retirement following the tournament.

Deschamps said: "Raphael called me a few days ago to explain to me that he wanted to put an end to his international career. He is an intelligent boy, who knows how to take the time to reflect, weigh the pros and cons before deciding. 

"Without going into the details of our exchange, Raphael believes that he has reached the end of his adventure with the France team. I experienced a situation somewhat similar to his, I understand his arguments and respect his decision even if it may seem regrettable.

"Of course, I cannot turn this page without a certain emotion, given the ties we have forged since August 2012. Like Hugo Lloris, he will have been, barring injury, in all of my squads."

Didier Deschamps criticised Noel Le Graet's "inappropriate" comments regarding Zinedine Zidane after the French Football Federation (FFF) president stepped away from his role on Wednesday.

Le Graet has withdrawn from his duties pending a French government investigation into the governing body, with French sports minister Amelie Oudea-Castera calling for change at the top of the organisation. 

That news came just three days after Le Graet caused controversy with his bizarre comments about Zidane in the aftermath of Deschamps signing a new four-year deal as France coach.

Zidane was linked with Deschamps' job following last month's World Cup final defeat to Argentina, but Le Graet said he would not "give a toss" if the former Real Madrid coach expressed an interest in leading the national team.

While Le Graet subsequently apologised, his comments were labelled as disrespectful by Kylian Mbappe and were also seen as distasteful by Deschamps.

"His words, as he acknowledged and admitted, were inappropriate," Deschamps said when asked about Le Graet on Wednesday. "I think it's a very good thing that he apologised to Zizou."

Deschamps then acknowledged constant speculation linking Zidane with his job had created a rivalry between the two coaches, who played together for Juventus and the national team.

"The sporting situation has led to a rivalry between the two of us. Even, for some, an opposition," he said of his relationship with Zidane.

"I will always have a lot of respect for him in relation to what we shared together in our first life as players, and for who he is, what he represents in football and French sports."

While Deschamps will lead France at a fourth World Cup in 2026 after penning his new deal, goalkeeper Hugo Lloris will not be present in the United States, Mexico and Canada after announcing his international retirement.

Deschamps was sorry to see his captain call time on his international career, saying: "I spoke at length with Hugo, I know him very well. I will not go into details. 

"When a person is driven by a deep conviction, he does not make a decision on a whim. It was carefully thought out. I understand his decision, even if I regret it. 

"He is someone who has been very important to the France team both on a human and a sporting level. We will miss him, but it is his decision, and we must say thank you for all he has done."

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