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France team guide

Twice champions and three times runners-up, a France side based on the 2012 FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup winners possesses the pedigree of genuine contenders in Wales.

France celebrate during their 6-1 second qualifying round victory over Russia
France celebrate during their 6-1 second qualifying round victory over Russia ©David Catry

These are heady times for the women's game in France, with Olympique Lyonnais a major force at club level and the senior national team getting ever closer to a first major title. The women's Under-19 side have, of course, already made the breakthrough, winning the UEFA European Women's U19 Championship in 2003 and 2010.

Though they have not graced the final tournament since inscribing their name on the trophy for a second time, there are high hopes of the current crop. Last October the Bleuettes lifted the FIFA U-17 Women's World Cup in Azerbaijan and much of that team has been promoted into the WU19 setup. "They have been involved since the start of 2013 – I have really liked what I have seen," said coach Gilles Eyquem.

That promise has translated onto the pitch, with a series of strong friendly performances – a 2-1 defeat by the Netherlands their only loss in eight games – providing a platform for their assault on April's second qualifying round. Given a bye for the first stage, they negotiated a potentially thorny group with aplomb.

With Kadidiatou Diani, Claire Lavogez and Léa Declercq all among the goals they recorded victories against Belgium, Russia and Switzerland, scoring 11 and conceding just once in the process.

Route to the finals
Second qualifying round: Belgium 2-0, Russia 6-1, Switzerland 3-0 (Group 2 winners)
Top scorer: Claire Lavogez, Kadidiatou Diani (3)

Key players
Griedge M'Bock Bathy (defender, EA Guingamp), Aminata Diallo (midfielder, Claix Football Féminin), Sandie Toletti (midfielder, Montpellier Hérault SC), Léa Declercq (forward, FCF Hénin-Beaumont), Claire Lavogez (forward, Montpellier Hérault SC)

Coach: Gilles Eyquem
Date of birth:
Playing career: FC Girondins de Bordeaux, EA Guingamp, AS Cannes, Chamois Niortais FC, SCO Angers, AS Cherbourg
Coaching career: AS Cherbourg (player-coach), SU Agen Football, France U16 (assistant), France U17 (assistant), France U18 (assistant), France U19 (assistant), France women's U19

France coach Gilles Eyquem
France coach Gilles Eyquem©David Catry

A product of Bordeaux's academy, centre-back Eyquem spent much of his playing career in Ligue 2 before a spell in the third tier as player-coach of Cherbourg in 1991/92. He then had eight years at amateur side Agen, cutting his coaching teeth, before joining the ranks of the French Football Federation (FFF).

Eyquem was Philippe Bergerôo's assistant with France's men's youth teams before taking the reins of the women's U19s in August 2012. He made an instant impression, enjoying nine wins in his first ten matches and guiding the squad to the WU19 finals for the first time in three attempts.

UEFA European Women's Under-19 Championship record
2011/12: did not qualify
2010/11: did not qualify
2009/10: winners
2008/09: semi-finals
2007/08: group stage
2006/07: semi-finals
2005/06: runners-up
2004/05: runners-up
2003/04: winners
2002/03: runners-up
2001/02: did not qualify

Honours in other UEFA women's competitions
UEFA European Women's Under-18 Championship
Runners-up: 1998
UEFA European Women's Under-17 Championship
Runners-up: 2008, 2011, 2012