Bengaluru, July 11: France have entered their third FIFA World Cup final in the last six editions, beating Belgium 1-0 at St Petersburg on Tuesday (May 11).
France will be up against either Croatia or England in the final to be played on Sunday (July 15) and irrespective of their opponents the Didier Deschamps' side will hold the edge. In this space, MyKhel looks deeply into France's win over Belgium and how they made it possible.
1 The French defence
It is easy to keep your focus on French frontline because of the presence of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann. But their defence is rock solid consisting of tough nuts like Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti. In fact, two of their last three goals were scored by defenders - Varane against Uruguay in the quarterfinals and Umtiti against Belgium in the semifinals. The way they marked Romelu Lukaku was just brilliant.
2 Neutralising Belgian forward line
Lukaku, Kevin de Bruyne and Eden Hazard, all were brilliant for Belgium against Brazil in the quarterfinals. They were roaming freely in the park against Latin Americans. But France did not offer them that luxury. Lukaku was almost invisible - there wasn't any of those bull runs or spectacular shot at the goal. Bruyne became desperate to pass the ball under constant pressure from his French counterparts and often lost the ball easily. Hazard fought bravely but one man could not have rocked a side as accomplished as France.
3 Hugo Lloris effect
Lloris is still not considered in the same space as Thibaut Courtois, Alisson or Keylor Navas. But the Frecnhman is an accomplished goalkeeper and he made his presence felt in two consecutive knockout matches against Uruguay and Belgium. He blocked some of the finest predators of contemporary football with confidence. Against Belgium, he denied De Bruyne and Toby Alderwerield from around 15 yards. In 1998, Fabien Barthez played a significant role in France's World Cup win and Lloris is fully capable of a repeat.
1 - Didier Deschamps 🇫🇷 est le 1er entraîneur de l'histoire de l'équipe de France à atteindre la finale de 2 tournois majeurs (EURO 2016 & Coupe du Monde 2018). Guide. #CM2018 #FRABEL pic.twitter.com/s7ZU51k8Hj— OptaJean (@OptaJean) July 10, 2018
4 Brilliant midfield
Paul Pogba, Ngolo Kante and Benjamin Pavard controlled the midfield in exemplary style. They never allowed Belgium's trio of Hazard, Lukaku and Bruyne the running space through the middle. The only option Belgium had was to move through the flanks and it gave their efforts to find goal a pattern which was easily decoded by the French defenders.
5 Deschamps role
France coach Didier Deschamps knows a thing or two about winning the World Cup. He was France captain when they lifted the trophy in 1998. Now, 20 years down the line the former defender is on the threshold of completing a player-coach double after Franz Beckenbauer (Germany) and Mario Zagallo (Brazil). And Deschamps, has shaped this France side in his DNA - no-nonsense and effective. This French outfit are capable of sublime football as showed in vignettes against Belgium but often they trade flair for solidity.