FIFA U-17 World Cup record
Having only featured in five of the 16 editions of the tournament to date, France cannot be described as FIFA U-17 World Cup stalwarts. However, their triumph at Trinidad and Tobago 2001, which followed a 14-year absence from the competition, suggested that the importance of previous performances is arguably overplayed. Whatever the case may be, aside from that run to glory inspired by Anthony Le Tallec and Florent Sinama-Pongolle, Les Bleuets have never gone beyond the quarter-finals. The most recent example came at Chile 2015, where Costa Rica knocked them out on penalties in the Round of 16.
Road to India
France must have feared having to watch the competition from afar again when they succumbed 3-1 to Spain in the last eight of this year's UEFA U-17 European Championship, with only the four semi-finalists automatically gaining a seat on the plane to India. The fifth and final ticket was contested in a play-off between the two best losing quarter-finalists, with France's record in the group stage (a 3-2 defeat by Hungary followed by 7-0 and 2-1 wins over Faroe Islands and Scotland respectively) good enough to earn them another bite of the cherry. Les Bleuets made the most of this second chance, exacting revenge on the Hungarians by prevailing 1-0 courtesy of Amine Gouiri's strike.
When he was appointed in 2015, Lionel Rouxel already boasted a wealth of experience coaching fledgling talents, having spent eight years in charge of the U-18s at Guingamp. This was a familiar environment for the former forward, who made his debut as a player at the Breton outfit and went on to enjoy four superb seasons there, striking up a lethal partnership with Stephane Guivarc'h that was instrumental in the club's meteoric rise from the French third division to the UEFA Cup. Now he is preparing for his first taste of the global stage, at the helm of an organised, yet ambitious side. "We subscribe to the premise that if we play good football, we'll have a better chance of going far," he said when asked to outline his philosophy ahead of the EURO. "But you also have to be solid defensively and capable of scoring goals at any time."
9 – Star attacker Gouiri scored a record-breaking nine times in five matches at the 2017 U-17 EURO in Croatia, eclipsing the tally of eight goals that compatriot Odsonne Edouard racked up at the 2015 tournament.