France
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The past
Often inconsistent on the global stage, France’s U-17 side failed to qualify for the last FIFA U-17 Women’s World Cup, held in 2010. Two years prior to that, however, Les Bleuettes had qualified in impressive fashion for New Zealand 2008, but at the tournament itself they once again blew hot and cold, resoundingly beating Paraguay 6-2 before losing 7-1 to Japan. France did not make it through the group stage, but managed to end on a positive note with a 1-1 draw with future finalists USA.

The present
At continental level, France have recently shown more consistency, reaching the final of the UEFA European Women’s U-17 Championship last year, where they lost 1-0 to Spain in a tight encounter. The French repeated the feat this year, this time falling at the final hurdle – via a penalty shoot-out, after a 1-1 draw – against Germany. Having finished runners-up in the European competition three times in five years, they are now generally regarded as heavyweights in this age category, but a major title would obviously confirm this rise to prominence.

The future
“Our objective was to reach the European Championship final, and then to lift the trophy. Despite the result, we’ve had a great tournament. We’ll be in with a shout at the U-17 World Cup,” said France coach Paco Rubio after his team's recent defeat by Germany. He will have a well-balanced side at his disposal in Azerbaijan, one that is led by impressive playmaker Sandie Toletti and spearheaded by fearsome strike duo Lea Declercq and Kadidiatou Diani.

Facts and figures

Former stars
Lea Rubio, Pauline Crammer, Solene Barbance

Key players
Sandie Toletti, Lea Declercq, Kadidiatou Diani

The stat
– The number of times in five editions of qualifying for the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in which France have finished as runners-up at the European Women's U-17 Championship.