Didier Deschamps’ Tactics Used for France at Euro 2024

July 09, 2024

by xfcedi

Didier Deschamps' Tactics Used for France at Euro 2024

By Eduard Bănulescu

Didier Deschamps is a manager whose tactics are loved by French supporters for the trophies they bring and loathed for how unexciting they make the football on the pitch.

With the France team set to take on Spain in the Euro 2024 semi-finals, it’s time that I take a look at Didier Deschamps’ tactics used throughout this tournament.

Didier Deschamps' Tactics Used for France at Euro 2024

Career Prior to Managing France

Didier Deschamps is the most successful former football player coaching a national team at Euro 2024, bar perhaps Ronald Koeman. In fact, both as a player and as a manager, Deschamps has been responsible for bringing the top prizes in international football on home soil.

Deschamps played as a defensive midfielder. He was, at times, one of the very best in this position. His skill, together with an understanding of the national team’s policies, meant that Deschamps was nearly always a starting player in a France team that included central midfielders like Patrick Vieira, Youri Djorkaeff or Zinedine Zidane.

This is why Didier Deschamps spent his best playing years representing Olympique Marseille, a controversial and highly successful French club during the 1990s. During the second part of his career, Deschamps played for clubs such as Juventus, Chelsea, or Valencia.

Deschamps, most famously, played a starring role in France 1998 World Cup victory and subsequent victory in the 2000s Europea Championship.

As a manager, Deschamps has been nearly as successful. Prior to France’s 2018 World Cup win, he had also managed Monaco, Juventus, for a brief spell, and his beloved Olympique Marseille.

Football Philosophy

Didier Deschamps is known the world over as a pragmatist. However, to say that his French team merely grinds out results in all its games would be unfair. The coach has been able to utilize France’s tremendous individual skill and, often, in important games, has outplayed his opponents.

Still, it is true that Deschamps is a careful planner, a tactician who tries to see a few steps ahead. It is one of the reasons he has been successful in tournaments.

Whenever possible, Didier Deschamps likes to pick players with a strong work ethic, who are dependable and, preferably, can be active in a number of roles.

Players who display great physicality and tactical awareness are preferred for roles such as defensive midfielder or attacker. In turn, this helps free up more skilled or quick players, like Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, or, in the past, Paul Pogba, to use their immense potential.

Didier Deschamps' Tactics Used for France at Euro 2024


Didier Deschamps’ time as France manager is synonymous with his use of the 4-2-3-1 formation. While this is the bedrock of his tactics, the way that Deschamps asks his players to interpret the roles determines the team’s success.

In fact, many managers have tried to replicate this tactic, starting with the 4-2-3-1 formation. However, often they’ve fallen short.

Deschamps knows when to tweak and when to tamper with a good thing. For Euro 2024, for example, the coach has made changes to the formation after nearly every game. The team may line up in a 4-3-3, or choose a 4-4-1-1, or 4-3-1-2.

Still, all of these are essentially variations on the familiar 4-2-3-1 formation and attempts to fit in France’s best players in the starting eleven.

France in Attack

France has scored only three times in its five Euro 2024 games. Despite this, with the exception of the group game against The Netherlands, the team has never looked like losing.

France plays in a front three or plays with one central forward backed by three attacking midfielders. Mbappe and Griezmann are the most important elements in this setup. Both have played, at times, in unfamiliar roles.

Mbappe has played as a central forward instead of a wide player, while Griezmann has continued to play behind the striker but in a more advanced position than usual. In fact, against Portugal in the Quarter-Finals, Mbappe and Griezmann played in a rigid front two.

There are two main reasons for the relative lack of goals. Firstly, there’s Kylian Mbappe’s injury against Austria. Secondly, while Deschamps’ has a wealth of attacking talent, he has not settled on a front three. Marcus Thuram, Ousmane Dembele or Bradley Barcola have been on and off the squad.

Recently, Kylian Mbappe remarked that he misses Paul Pogba’s threaded passes. Deschamps could say the same. This is, perhaps, why the midfield line in Euro 2024 is usually composed of three defensive-minded players.

In fact, France’s midfielders now attempt few through balls. The team prefers short passes, with the occasional over-the-defense pass driven in hopes of utilizing Mbappe’s pace.

Didier Deschamps' Tactics Used for France at Euro 2024

Build up

France likes to build up patiently from the back. The team uses, almost exclusively, short passing.

The team likes to overcrowd the center of the pitch with one central defender, usually Dayot Upamecano, joining the three midfielders. Width is provided, typically, not by the wingers but by the wing-backs. Both Theo Hernandez and Jules Kounde have been among France’s best performers.

Ideally, Griezmann’s ability to play between the lines allows France to launch attacks in the final third. Dembele’s excellent skill on the ball has also lead to most of France’s goalscoring chances against Portugal.

France in Defense

France’s Euro 2024 may not make for great television viewing. But this is partly because Les Bleues give the opposition nearly no room to maneuver. The team plays in a compact mid-block that utilizes the exceptional defensive attributes of its players.

Deschamps continues to play with a back four. William Saliba marshalls the defense and has been exceptional so far. Wing-backs Hernandez and Kounde need to contribute to attacking plays as well as wrap up the team’s pressing. Upamecano joins the midfield pressing. Considering his more advanced position, his tackling, and position must be spot-on at all times.

But how is this different from France’s 2018 World Cup-winning iteration? The main difference is in terms of the profile of players Deschamps has at his disposal. Only two players, N’Golo Kante, and Olivier Giroud, are left remaining from that team.

Deschamps’ defensive players are patient, strong, and intelligent. They fit his Euro 2024 tactics perfectly. Kounde has averaged 3 tackles a game. Kante makes two tackles per game. And attackers like Dembele and Barcola made nearly the same number of tackles when playing from the front.

This active defense remains France’s greatest asset. While this approach won’t endear them to neutral audiences, it makes France an extremely difficult team to pin back and break down.

Didier Deschamps' Tactics Used for France at Euro 2024

Can France Win Euro 2024?

Yes, France’s squad was the very best assembled by a team at Euro 2024. Les Bleues have always been the top favorites.

Is there a caveat? Yes, Deschamps doesn’t yet know precisely what he wants. The manager’s few but consistent changes show that he doesn’t yet know France’s best line-up and formation.

Spain’s dynamic, imaginative, offensive style, which is directly opposed to Deschamps’ tactics, may hurt France’s chances.

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