the United States in the opening match and an affordable draw for Thierry Henry and the French football team

With or without Kylian Mbappé, the French Olympic team (almost) knows its opponents for the first round of the Paris 2024 Games tournament. The coach, Thierry Henry, and his players will face the United States and New Zealand first. July 24 and 30, in Marseille. The Bleuets will have to wait to find out their last opponent (July 27, in Nice). A play-off will pit Guinea against an Asian team at the beginning of May.

“Even if a team is still missing, we can start working and planning. We play the United States on Monday [25 mars] in Sochaux [en match amical], we didn’t know that we were going to face them right away. We are in the concrete from this evening”declared Thierry Henry, who prefers not to comment on a possible quarter-final against Morocco or Argentina.

The football tournament will begin on July 24, two days before the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games. As the host country, France was named top seed, like Argentina, during this draw carried out at the headquarters of the Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (COJO), Wednesday March 20, in Saint-Denis (Seine-Saint- Denis).

“We visualized gold”

The Olympic tournament is reserved for players born from 1er January 2001, but, like the other selectors, Thierry Henry has the possibility of retaining three footballers over 23 years old. Kylian Mbppé dreams of participating in the Olympics. Problem: Real Madrid – where the Paris Saint-Germain striker is insistently announced next season – refuses to release its players for an Olympic tournament outside FIFA dates.

Read also | Paris 2024: Thierry Henry unveils a first skeleton of his French Olympic team

For Thierry Henry, the objective is gold and to imitate the team led by Henri Michel in 1984. “I already said, we visualized gold. We visualize where we have to get, but there is a path to get there, that’s what visualizing means, and the South Americans are doing it very well at the Olympic Games. estimates the 1998 world champion, in reference to the titles of Argentina, in 2008, and Brazil, double title holder but largely absent from the Parisian edition.

The former striker also knows Olympic history and appreciates the difficulties of French football for forty years at the Olympics. Apart from a quarter-final in 1996 in Atlanta (United States), France has not progressed beyond the first round since 1984. “We will do everything to go for gold, like in Los Angeles”promises the coach, in reference to the Olympic title brought back from California by the team led by Henri Michel.

Another era. The tournament was not reserved for under-23s and a French team led by Daniel Xuereb, Guy Lacombe and Albert Rust beat Brazil (2-0) in the final. The Bleuets hope to follow in their footsteps on August 9 at the Parc des Princes in Paris.

The draw

Group A : France, United States, Guinea or Asia 4**, New Zealand

Group B : Argentina, Morocco, Asia 3*, Ukraine

Group C : Asia 2*, Spain, Egypt, Dominican Republic

Group D : Asia 1*, Paraguay, Mali, Israel

*Nations to be determined based on the results of the Asian Under-23 Championship.

**A play-off will be played between Guinea and the Asian team at the beginning of May.

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