France

The past
Winners of the very first FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup in 2005, France have long been considered one of the best exponents of the game on the planet. That triumph came after they beat Portugal 1-0 on penalties at the end of their 3-3 draw in the Final, but Eric Cantona's men lost out in the semi-finals the following year, drawing 2-2 with the defensive titans of Uruguay before going out 1-0 in the shootout. Their consolation came in the form of third place, taken at the expense of Portugal in a 6-4 victory, yet in 2007 they had to settle for fourth. Defeated 6-2 by Brazil in the last four, Uruguay swung the match for third 1-0 on penalties with the scores locked at 2-2.

The present
Playing at home, in front of the fervent Marseille crowd, Les Bleus will be keen to leave a strong impression and are aiming for nothing less than the global title itself. Having been freed of the need to qualify, France have been on various tours and contested a few friendly tournaments of late, using the opportunity to inject fresh blood into a squad judged a little too old.

The future
Receiving excellent advice from goalkeeping coach Claude Barrabe, manager Eric Cantona and coach Henri Emile have been focusing on exploiting the formidable reservoir of talent available on Reunion Island. Following in the path of current captain Jeremy Basquaise and Jean-Idriss Saidou, several youngsters from the island should soon break their way into the first team, carrying a message of hope for the future.

Facts

Former stars
Anthony Mendy, Sebastien Sansoni (2005), Noel Sciortino, Jean-Marc Edouard (2005 and 2006)

Key players
Jean-Marie Aubry (goalkeeper), Sebastien Perez (defender), Jeremy Basquaise (midfielder), Didier Samoun (striker)

The numbers game
1 - the number of defeats the French have suffered during normal time in their 17 FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup matches. That sole loss came against Brazil (6-2) at the semi-final stage last year.