On paper, reigning world champions France will go to Qatar as hot favourites to lift the trophy again.
With an abundance of world class options across all departments, Les Bleus have arguably the best squad in the world right now.
But, France fans could feel paranoid seeing the fate of defending World Cup champions in recent editions of the tournament.
The Champions Curse
The defending World Cup champions returned home from the group stage four times in the last five editions.
France themselves suffered group stage elimination in 2002 despite holding on to most of their 1998-World Cup winning squad.
Italy, Spain, and Germany in the last three World Cups could not get to the knockout stages despite entering the fray as defending champions.
Can France beat the champion’s curse and become the first reigning World Cup champions to play knock-out stage football since 2006?
As we have already mentioned, France have enviable depth across all departments.
So, they will be one of the title contenders in Qatar.
They will play Denmark, Australia, and Tunisia in Group D, which most pundits view as a favourable draw for the two-time World champions.
But recent performances indicate it might not be a walk in the park for France as many had anticipated.
In the latest UEFA Nations League, Didider Deschamps’ men failed to win any of their four matches.
They were drawn into a group with Austria, Croatia, and Denmark.
In the first four rounds, France lost twice and drew twice. One of their defeats came against Denmark, who will take on France in the World Cup group stages as well.
France’s poor form stretches back to the Euro 2020, where Switzerland knocked them out of the competition in the Round of 16.
Before exiting the Round of 16, France had won only one of their group matches, which does not paint a picture of dominance by any means.
Dressing room clashes
Besides the performances, the behind-the-scenes scenario in the French dressing room appears far from ideal as well.
There were bust-ups between players during the Euros in the French dressing room.
Even family members of certain players got into heated arguments among themselves in mud-sling campaigns.
In recent months, there was this ridiculous allegation that Paul Pogba has paid a witch doctor to put a curse on his national team colleague Kylian Mbappé.
As the World Cup draws near, the French squad does not appear to be a well-knit unit.
The lack of synergy in the French team can severely hurt their World Cup ambitions.
Denmark have already shown their might by making the Euro 2020 semifinals and topping their Nations League group.
Tunisia had a brilliant AFCON run where they knocked out favourites Nigeria to book a place in the last eight.
In recent months, they have won against Japan and Chile, who are formidable international sides.
Australia might be the weakest team in the group, but the Socceroos might emerge as a tricky opponent as well.
After all, they overcame Peru against the odds to secure their tickets for the World Cup.
So, France dropping out of the group stages might not be an overly far-fetched possibility.