France reaching the final for a third time is the culmination of Didier Deschamps’s impressive managerial career.
England will face a huge challenge if they reach the World Cup Final as they will face off against one of the tournament favorites. Their rivals across The Channel lie in wait following their disciplined and impressive victory over Belgium. The French are the only team of the pre-tournament favorites that have looked anywhere near capable of lifting the Jules Rimet Trophy in Moscow and they have looked more and more impressive as the tournament has gone on.
Their neatly assembled, well drilled side is the culmination of an impressive body of work laid down by Didier Deschamps. The Marseille and Juventus legend and former captain is on the cusp of yet another professional honour as well as leading the transformation of his nation’s football team.
Deschamps has led The French out of the mire, following their debacle and infighting at the 2010 World Cup. The work he has done has perhaps been overshadowed by Germany’s staggering progress, but there is no denying the great good “The Water Carrier” has done. He is now just one game away from immortality.
France’s run through the knockouts has been tough. Argentina, Uruguay and a now a very gifted Belgium team have all been moved aside. An aggregate score of seven – three in those games is a true reflection of how well France have done to make it through to the final. Having beaten three very capable teams en route they will full of confidence as they approach the final on 15th July.
They have displayed a nice blend of solid defending and eye catching flair throughout, with players like Griezmann and Mbappe really starting to click together on the international stage. In fact their whole first XI will take some stopping by just about any opponent.
A team full of quality set up just right
There will be plenty of envious eyes watching this French romp to the final. Nations like Argentina, Spain and Brazil are blessed with plenty of individual talent but have really struggled to carve out a system that allows them to perform at their very best. They huffed and puffed and huffed again, Spain even tried a couple of forward passes, but ultimately they failed to deliver.
France and their coaching staff have not had this problem. Deschamps has found a way to glue his star players into an efficient system. They are stoic in defense, solid in possession and deadly upfront, title winning stuff indeed. Their one to eleven is up there with some of the finest teams they have assembled. It says a lot when the likes of Lemar, Fekir and N’Zonzi are sat on the bench, looking on.
Kante is as good for Les Blues as he is in the Premier League, breaking up play so well and not giving the opposition in inch. He is surely one of the most important footballers in the world right now. Chelsea will do well to keep him, as he continues to show just what a pivotal player he can be for any side he plays in.
Mbappe has written his name into this World Cup already and the teenager is now a terrifying prospect for any back line to contend with. There is also the small matter of Griezmann upfront; the multi faced forward is as good as anyone on his day.
All three are world class, but huge credit must go to Deschamps for creating the framework for them to operate so effectively in. They have bedrock at the back, a solid defensive unit which breads confidence throughout the team. Their mean defense has produced four clean sheets so far, proving just how lethally efficient this side is.
It’s a discipline manufactured by Deschamps who knows what it takes to get his sides well drilled and playing as a collective. It would not have been difficult to lose control of such a talented and egotistical crew. Their manager has kept them together and focused which just as important as their massive wealth in individual talent.
France are on the cusp of greatness again, their ’98 and 2000 successes were built on similar individual talent. Their current crop certainly has that feel about them. Crucially Deschamps was part of that greatness and will be no stranger to the huge pressure and expectation that will now fall on his talented squad.
France will certainly eye England or Croatia as there for the taking, but this may not work in their favour. Having been starved of success for nearly twenty years, their players will have to keep a cool head. Mbappe is still only a teenager; Pogba has been known to go missing at times and the others will no doubt be keen to impress. Both Croatia and England are more than capable of being very effective with a direct style. If they begin to frustrate their opponents then it will be interesting to see if Deschamps can marshal his troops and keep them cool.
It’s been a long road to recovery for France under Deschamps, they now appear to be nearing the end of their journey. As the last of the favorites standing they have a huge chance to bring home the trophy for a second time. They will be worthy winners, but Southgate will no doubt feel he has a puncher’s chance if they can get past Croatia. Let the nerves begin!