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Are France destined to do what only Italy and Brazil have done so far at the FIFA World Cup? | Football News – Times of India


It’s quite an incredible statistic when you think about it – In 21 completed editions only two teams ever have managed to successfully defend the FIFA World Cup title. The Italians did it in 1938, defending the trophy, which they won in 1934.
And then the men wearing the canary yellow jerseys won their first title in 1958 and then defended the trophy – which by 1946 had been renamed the Jules Rimet trophy – in the next edition in 1962.
When Olivier Giroud scored the second goal for France against England in their quarter-final clash this time in Qatar in the 78th minute, it essentially meant that the French became the first defending champions to enter the World Cup semi-finals since Brazil in 1998. And they have done it without the services of players like Karim Benzema, Paul Pogba, Anthony Martial, Presnel Kimpembe and N’Golo Kante, among others.

But the way the French have ensured that they keep their grasp on the trophy intact has of course turned them into possibly the biggest title favourites at this point in time. Argentina are of course still there and so are dark horses Croatia and surprise package Morocco, but it’s the French who most believe are destined to win the title in Qatar.
Destiny – it plays a special role always doesn’t it? Many would argue that Roberto Baggio was destined to miss that penalty kick in the 1994 final vs Brazil. After all, he was tagged the ‘saviour of Italy’ through the 1994 edition, leading up to the summit clash.
If you are not a great believer in destiny, consider this – Olivier Giroud in all probability would not have found a place in the French starting XI if Benzema was around. The French front line would have been Benzema, Dembele, Mbappe. But then a last minute injury saw the latest winner of the Ballon d’Or miss the World Cup cut. In walks Giroud, in good scoring form for AC Milan, and is currently the joint second highest goal scorer of the tournament with 4 goals. In the 2018 edition, which France won, Giroud didn’t score a single goal. Destiny?

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In the last three editions of the World Cup, the holders have been knocked out in the first round itself – Italy in 2010, Spain in 2014 and Germany in 2018. France have managed to buck that trend and now find themselves within two wins of what will be their third World Cup title. Destiny?
But then one can’t of course base World Cup match result predictions on fate.
So let’s talk about what is going right for the French on the field right now.
The number one thing working in their favour is their attacking mindset. The top goal scorer in the tournament currently is French (Kylian Mbappe) and one of the two players tied in second place is also part of the Les Bleus outfit (Olivier Giroud).

In the quarter-finals, they managed to see off a team tagged as the best English team in a long time. England did hold the upper hand for long stretches of play, but the French had the last laugh. Giroud has given Didier Deschamps everything he wanted when he was forced to look beyond Benzema.
Antoine Griezmann, who became a household name, playing as a centre forward for France and Atletico Madrid, has taken to his attacking midfielder role, in the absence of Pogba, like fish to water.
In Mbappe France have possibly the one player on the planet, who always looks like he can score. He was of course brilliantly marked by Kyle Walker and others in the quarter-final against England and didn’t get on the scoresheet, but the Moroccans might find it far more difficult to stop Mbappe than the English did.

Overall in Morocco France have definitely got, at least on paper, the easier of the two semi-final match-ups.
And then of course there is Didier Descahmps, the manager, who is one of only three people to have won the World Cup as both player and manager (the other two being Mario Zagallo with Brazil and Franz Beckenbauer with Germany). The mood in the French camp according to most reports coming out of Qatar is ‘serene’, thanks to the calm that Deschamps exudes.
Now, hypothetically, say France beat Morocco which is, let’s face it, the most likely outcome. They will then face either Croatia or Argentina in the final, with the latter option being the more preferred fan option, of course.
Argentina have history on their side in their semi-final clash vs Croatia. They have never ever lost a World Cup semi-final in 5 previous appearances in the last four.

fifa semi final linup

But if there is an ‘upset’, the French, most would argue, have the attacking prowess and speed to break down the Croatian defense.
Argentina meanwhile have scored as many as 6 goals against France in their last three encounters, although France won two of those games. This statistic however stretches back to 2007. The Albiceleste are already ‘feeling it’ and a win vs Croatia will be yet another huge shot in the arm for them. If they do make it to the summit clash, France will have one huge last hurdle still left to cross.

If a France vs Argentina final does indeed happen, just imagine the list of possibilities we will have – The chance for a team to successfully defend the title for just the third time in the history of the World Cup, the chance for Didier Descahmps to become just the second manager since Italy’s Vittorio Pozzi in 1938 to win the World Cup twice, the chance for Lionel Messi to win his first World Cup and the biggest international title of his decorated career in what is in all probability his last World Cup appearance.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic feels the stars are aligning for Lionel Messi and Argentina to win the title this time. The French will of course have a thing or two to say about that.





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