After 64 matches played and 169 goals scored, France emerged the winners of the World Cup for the second time in their history thanks to a 4-2 triumph over Croatia.It was a thrilling and high-scoring end to a hugely successful tournament. France’s second star came 20 years after their very first success in 1998.
Didier Deschamp’s men may have been the pre-tournament favorites for most football fans, but their stuttering start to the campaign raised doubts in the mind of many. A narrow 2-1 win over Australia in the opening group game looked unconvincing and they were written off.
However, the second youngest team in the campaign built confidence with each game, a narrow win over Peru followed by a stalemate against Denmark secured first position and a date with the Albiceleste. Les Bleus were on the brink of elimination before they took the game by the scruff of the neck to complete a comeback, thanks to Mbappe’s brilliance.
World Cup winner 🏆 Best young player 🥇
Four goals in first major tournament ⚽⚽⚽⚽
Second youngest player ever to score in a World Cup final 👌
🇫🇷 Kylian Mbappé 👏👏👏 pic.twitter.com/eTdsPpZt4b
— UEFA Nations League (@UEFAEURO) July 16, 2018
Another South American opponent Uruguay were the next in line for a Quarter-final showdown. This time they didn’t pose much threat like their counterpart as they were brushed aside 2-0. Goals from Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann wrapped up the job.
Singin' (and dancin') in the rain!
— French Team (@FrenchTeam) July 15, 2018
The biggest test of the campaign came in the semi-finals, where they confronted the Golden generation of Belgium football who were equally in superb form with the likes of De Bruyne, Hazard, and Lukaku in their ranks. It was the manner and tactics they employed in beating their close door neighbors that showed they were on a cusp of something special. A rare goal from the unlikeliest of sources in Samuel Umtiti secured a keenly contested 1-0 win.
The Red Devils kept throwing the kitchen sink at them throughout the game, but Deschamp’s men were defensively resolute and tactically sound to withstand the pressure and booked a place in the finals for the first time since Germany 06′. A win for Croatia in the other encounter confirmed a date with the French, a tie that was reminiscent of the semi-finals in France 98′ where Aime Jacquet tutored side secured a 2-1 victory against all the odds.
Croatia dominated the early proceedings in the game and frequently threatened to score. However, it was France that opened the scoring via a set-piece by Griezmann whose wicked delivery was deflected by Mario Mandzukic. The Croatians deservedly equalized with a beautiful piece of control and a quality shot from Ivan Perisic. All the same, that lead didn’t last long as Griezmann once again converted from the spot after the referee reviewed video evidence of a handball.
— Paul Pogba (@paulpogba) July 15, 2018
Two long-range efforts from Paul Pogba and Mbappe in the second half extended the scoreline to 4-1 before a gaffe from Hugo Lloris in the 69th minute allowed Mandzukic to tap in from close range. Croatia huffed and puffed for a life-line and a possible equalizer, but the French army held on strong.
French coach Didier Deschamps became only the third man to win the competition as a player and coach. Les Bleus may not have the swashbuckling and effervescent style of play like the Spanish armada in 2010 or the ruthless approach of the well oiled German machines in 2014. But you can’t take away the grit,determination and zeal of this young French team that has opened another chapter in the history of French football. Bravo!!!