zoom in on the Blues course

The group stage: two convincing victories and a fight to catch your breath

For 20 years, a curse has plagued the reigning world champions. Neither France in 2002, nor Italy in 2010, nor Spain in 2014, nor Germany in 2018 made it out of the pool four years after winning the top title. Only Brazil in 2006 managed to break the rule. Deprived of Maignan, Kimpembe, Pogba, Kanté, Nkunku and Benzema, we wondered if the Blues would fill the table of fallen world champions from the pool.

To tell the truth, we believed it for 27 minutes. When they entered the battle against Australia, the French team found themselves trailing in the 9th minute. To make matters worse, in goal action Lucas Hernandez seriously injured his knee and was added to the injured list. But the Blues show character. A header from Rabiot allowed them to take the score (27′), then goals from Giroud (32′, 71′) and Mbappé (68′) ensured them a comfortable victory over the Socceroos (4-1).

After these initial difficulties, the Blues were launched. Facing Denmark in what was thought to be the final group, the French showed an exciting performance and won with authority thanks to a double from Mbappé (2-1).

With two victories in their pocket, the Blues qualify and are almost guaranteed to finish first. So, as usual, Didier Deschamps rotates for the third game. Nine changes were made to the starting XI and several players lined up in unusual positions. The least we can say is that it was seen. Manhandled by Tunisia, the Blues bowed to a goal from Khazri (0-1) and tanished their group stage now mastered.

Round of 16: a record Giroud and a sparkling Mbappé against Poland

After leaving their group to qualify for the round of 16, Poland hit their ceiling against France (3-1). At the end of a difficult first period, Giroud delivered the Blues and this time became the only top scorer in the history of the Blues.

Freed by this opening score, the French team succeeded in its subject… until the Mbappé show. French N.10 harasses Polish defense and clears two skylights of Szczęsny before Lewandowski’s anecdotal score deduction.

Quarter-final: a showdown won against England

The serious stuff starts in the quarter-finals with a showdown against an impressive England team in the pool and in the eighth. The French team was put on the right track by a sudden strike from Aurélien Tchouaméni that surprised Pickford (1-0, 17th). Stung by this opener, England pushed on against a shaky Blues. Both Tchouaméni faulted Sterling and allowed Kane to equalize from the penalty spot (1-1, 54′).

Even when in trouble, the Blues manage to punish their opponent. New illustration in the 78th minute when Giroud rose to cut off a cross from Griezmann and restore the lead to France (2-1, 78th). In the last quarter of an hour, the Blues bowed but could not break. Kane had a golden chance to equalize from the penalty spot but the Spurs striker cracked under pressure and fired the ball wide of his club-mate Lloris’ goal. The Blues won against the Three Lions (2-1) and validated their ticket for the last four.

Semi-final: Blues end Moroccan dream

No one dared to dream of such a poster in the semi-finals of the World Cup. But after dismissing Spain (0-0, tab 3-0), then Portugal (1-0), Morocco is in the last four, a first for an African country.

Facing the Atlas Lions, the Blues make it easy by opening the scoring quickly. Mbappé triggered a blocked shot that returned to Théo Hernandez who deceived Bounou in the aerial recovery (1-0, 5 ‘). Accustomed to relinquish control of the game to their opponents, Morocco were forced to take more initiatives against a French team that was setting itself up in its own 30 meters to better launch its offensive arrows.

But the France 2022 team does not show the same excellence as its 2018 version. The Blues play to scare each other and rely on a boss-sized Lloris and an inspired Konaté to maintain their lead. At the end of the match, incoming Randal Kolo Muani scored the KO goal and confirmed France’s victory (2-0). A finalist again four years after his coronation, the French team is showing success in disarmament. These Blues never shine but always end up winning. In the final against Argentina, however, they will have to erase these defensive mistakes in order not to be punished by a Lionel Messi who will play the most important match of his career.

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