France national under-21 football team
|Nickname(s)||Les Bleuets (The Little Blues)
Les Espoirs (The Hopes)
|Association||French Football Federation|
|Head coach||Pierre Mankowski|
|Most caps||Mickaël Landreau (43)|
|Top scorer||Anthony Le Tallec (12)|
|U23: France 0–0 Norway
Alès, 11 November 1970
U21: France 1–1 Belgium
Amiens, 3 September 1976
| France 7–0 Yugoslavia
Reims, 16 November 1985
| England 6–1 France
Sheffield, 28 February 1984
|UEFA U-21 Championship|
|Appearances||8 (First in 1982)|
|Best result||Winners (1988)|
The France national under-21 football team (French: Equipe de France Espoirs), known in France as Les Espoirs (French pronunciation: [ɛs.pwaʁ], The Hopes), is the national under-21 football team of France and is controlled by the French Football Federation. The team competes in the UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship, held every two years. The team was previously coached by former Toulouse manager Erick Mombaerts, however, following the team's failure to qualify for the 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship in October 2012, he agreed to leave the position.
Following the realignment of UEFA's youth competitions in 1976, under-21 football teams in Europe were formed. The team is exclusively for football players that are age 21 or under at the start of the two-year campaign of the UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship meaning a player can represent the national team until the age of 23. Since the coaching tenure of Aimé Jacquet, there has been an unwritten rule among senior national team coaches that players called up to the national team must have had prior international experience with the under-21 team. Due to the country's multicultural background, France regularly produces under-21 players who have gone on to play for other country's senior national teams. Players such as Mourad Meghni, Issiar Dia, Sébastien Bassong, and Hassan Yebda all represented France at under-21 level before opting to represent their country of origin at senior level.
France has won the UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship once in 1988. Notable players on the team that went on to play for the senior national team include Laurent Blanc, Eric Cantona, Franck Sauzée, and Jocelyn Angloma, among others. Blanc was named the tournament's Golden Player. The team's best finish since was in 2002 when the team finished runner-up to the Czech Republic in Switzerland. Though the 2002 team produced ten players who went on to play for the senior team, only one of them, Sidney Govou, has become a regular international.
The France under-21 team does not have a permanent home. The team plays in stadiums located all around France, particularly grounds of Ligue 2 clubs. Because of the smaller demand compared to the senior national team, smaller facilities are used. Recently, the under-21 team has established the Stade Auguste-Delaune II, home of Stade Reims, as a home residence having played numerous matches there over the past two seasons.
Though, under-21 teams weren't formed until 1976, Les Espoirs, a youth national team in France, had existed since 1950 playing its first match on 22 May 1952 defeating England 7–1 at the Stade Jules Deschaseaux in Le Havre. The team's next match was two years later suffering a 3–1 defeat to Italy in Vicenza. For the rest of the decade, the youth team played seven more matches, which included a 1–1 draw with Hungary in Budapest and a 2–0 loss to England in Sunderland in 1959. In the 1960s, Espoirs continued to play matches against fellow national youth sides. However, on 18 December 1968, the team contested a match against Algeria senior team in Algiers recording an impressive 5–2 victory. Four days later, the team draw 1–1 with the under-23 team of Algeria in Oran. On 12 February 1969, the Espoirs played the Hungary senior team at the Stade Gerland in Lyon. The match ended in a 2–2 draw.
Note: Names in italics denote players that have been called up to the senior team.
Caps and goals as of 25 March 2015, after the team's match against Estonia.
The following players have also been called up to the France under-21 squad and remain eligible:
- INJ Player withdrew from the squad due to an injury.
- SEN Player withdrew from the squad due to a call up to the senior team.
- 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship qualification
|Slovakia v France 7 September 2012||Slovakia||2 – 1||France||NTC Senec, Senec|
|18:45 CEST||Žilák 21'
|Report||Varane 4'||Referee: Steven McLean (Scotland)
|France v Chile 10 September 2012||France||4 – 0||Chile||Stade Marcel-Deflandre, La Rochelle|
|20:50 CET||Knockaert 53'
|Report||Referee: Félix Zwayer (Germany)
- 2013 UEFA European Under-21 Football Championship qualification playoffs
|France v Norway 12 October 2012||France||1 – 0||Norway||Stade Océane, Le Havre|
|18:45 CEST||Varane 22'||Report||Referee: Kristo Tohver (Estonia)
|Norway v France 16 October 2012||Norway||5 – 3||France||Marienlyst Stadion, Drammen|
|18:00 CEST||Singh 13' (pen.)
|Referee: Paolo Valeri (Italy)
Last updated: 16 October 2012
Source: French Football Federation U-21 Schedule
- As of 9 September 2013
|Assistant manager||Patrice Gonfalone||French|
|Assistant manager||José Alcocer||French|
|Goalkeeping coach||Sylvain Matrisciano||French|
- For single-match results of the under-21 national team, see French football single-season articles.
UEFA U-23 Championship Record
- 1972: Did not qualify. Finished 4th of 4 in qualification group.
- 1974: Did not qualify. Finished 3rd of 3 in qualification group.
- 1976: Losing quarter-finalists.
UEFA European Under-21 Championship Record
|1978||Did not qualify||4||0||1||3||4||6|
|1980||Did not qualify||4||2||1||1||3||2|
|1990||Did not qualify||6||3||2||1||11||7|
|1992||Did not qualify||8||3||2||3||7||5|
|1998||Did not qualify||8||4||3||1||13||8|
|2000||Did not qualify||8||6||2||2||19||6|
|2004||Did not qualify||10||8||1||1||20||7|
|2007||Did not qualify||4||2||1||1||6||3|
|2009||Did not qualify||10||5||3||2||17||7|
|2011||Did not qualify||8||4||3||1||12||6|
|2013||Did not qualify||10||8||0||2||23||7|
|2015||Did not qualify||8||7||1||0||28||7|
- *Draws include knockout matches decided by penalty shootout.
- **Gold background colour indicates that the tournament was won. Red border colour indicates tournament was held on home soil.
- Champions (11): 2007, 2006, 2005, 2004, 1997, 1989, 1988, 1987, 1985, 1984, 1977
- Finalists (11): 2009, 1998, 1996, 1995, 1993, 1991, 1986, 1980, 1978, 1976, 1975
France's under-21 football friendlies and qualifying matches are broadcast by Direct 8.
- "1988: France sweep to final glory". Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). Retrieved 12 July 2010.
- "1988: Laurent Blanc". Union of European Football Associations (UEFA). Retrieved 12 July 2010.
- "Dernière sélection". French Football Federation (in French). 3 October 2013. Retrieved 19 March 2015.
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