Form: Les Bleus have had an abysmal time under coach Philippe Saint-Andre, who will be replaced by Toulouse stalwart Guy Noves after the World Cup. Two successive fourth-placed Six Nations finishes underline France's travails, with Saint-Andre lambasted for unpatriotic pragmatism. A stirring performance in a 25-20 World Cup warm-up victory over England in Paris did however stir echoes of France's classic, swashbuckling style.
Captain: Thierry Dusautoir. The veteran flanker takes the armband despite carrying a knee injury into the tournament, such is the depth of his influence. The 33-year-old approaches his third World Cup, and when fit remains as much a breakdown menace as ever. His experience is also vital.
Star player: Wesley Fofana. As with Jonathan Joseph for England, so Fofana for France is the midfield antidote to a game cluttered with giants. The Clermont centre's guile and wit offers a vital foil to the juggernaut antics of usual partner Mathieu Bastareaud.
World Cup history: Whatever the shambles in the build-up, France somehow always get their act together for the World Cup. Three finals, three semi-finals and a quarter-final speak volumes about France's uncanny ability to shine under the greatest spotlight. Hosts New Zealand edged out the French four years ago even after another messy build-up.
France’s Pool D fixtures:
Sat 19 Sept FRANCE v ITALY (Twickenham, 8pm)
Wed 23 Sept FRANCE v ROMANIA (Olympic Stadium, 8pm)
Thur 1 Oct FRANCE v CANADA (Stadiummk, 8pm)
Sun 11 Oct FRANCE v IRELAND (Millennium Stadium, 4.45pm)