The France national football team, the vice-champion of Europe, is the odds-on favourite in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia. France has become the Group A winner in European qualifiers where it has a lead of 4 points against Sweden and the Netherlands.
For the fifteenth time, France is taking part in the FIFA World Cup. For the previous 14 participations France has in its portfolio one victory, one silver and two bronze medals of the World Cup. Progress of The Tri-colors is evenly distributed on time and often associated with specific performers.
The French participated already in the first 1930 World Cup where they couldn’t leave the group. In general, the pre-war period was not the most successful in the history of the France national football team. The team took part in three World Cups, and its getting into quarterfinal in the home tournament in 1938 became the best result.
The first serious success came to the French in the 1958 FIFA World Cup Sweden. The team forward Juste Fontaine became the main creator of the bronze medals. Already at the group stage, Fontaine scored six goals into the net of the opponents. In total, for three matches France could scored 11 goals. In quarterfinal The Tri-colors beat the Northern Ireland team with score 4:0. And again, Fontaine lent a weighty contribution to a victory when scored two goals in the match. Alas, in the semi-final the attacking model of the France national football team didn’t work. Having faced not less skilled in positional play Brazilians, France capitulated. In the bronze medal match France outplayed Germany 6:3, and four goals were scored by Fontaine. The France national football team, for the first time ever, won the World Cup medals and showed a beautiful attacking football. In total, France scored 23 goals in the tournament, and Juste Fontaine, who became the top scorer of the tournament, scored 13 goals. This result still remains unsurpassed.
The following progress of the French on the international scene is connected with the name of Michel Platini. In 1982 and 1986 the French reached up to semi-finals twice, and both times they gave way to the Germany national football team. The match in 1982 is considered one of the brightest and memorable in the history of World Cups. Both teams showed a beautiful game, the match abounded with dangerous moments and goals. By the 30th minute the teams already exchanged scored goals. The sign episode happened in the 60th minute when, after tough collision with the goalkeeper of the German team Toni Schumacher, the French defender Patrick Battiston stayed lying unconscious on the lawn. After that collision Patrick survived by miracle; he got concussion and a neck-bone crack. During time until the final whistle, the French could score a few decisive goals, but full time of the match, nevertheless, finished in a draw 1:1. The main events happened into extra time. In the 93rd and 97th minutes, France scored two goals and appeared to secure a long-awaited berth at the final. However, the Germans displayed their character and could tie the game. The final score was 3:3. The after match penalty shootout became the first in the history of the World Cups. Before, a match winner in case of draw after extra time was defined by lot. The Germans appeared stronger under penalty.
Four years later France went to the World Cup in Mexico as a main favourite and the defending Champion of Europe. Having won two victories in three matches at the group stage, the French easily were qualified for the play-offs. In round of last 16, thanks to Michel Platini’s goal, The Tri-colors kicked out the defending champion of the World Cup Italy national football team from playing off, and another favourite — Brazil in quarterfinal (on penalty, and again, Platini scored the only goal). Alas, like 4 years ago, the Germany team blocked the way of the French to the final. The Mexico tournament result — the World Cup bronze, the second in the history of France.
After the brilliant 8 years, after the Michel Platini’s generation left the national team, a failure happened which was not the first one in the history of the France national football team. France missed two in a row Mundials, but then again held a fantastic tournament.
In 1998 France became the country receiving a World Cup. The tournament hosts, despite the bronze won four years ago in the European Championship, weren’t considered as favourites at all. In the home tournament, the French seemed a young and hungry to victories team under the leadership of the skilled coach Aime Jacquet who had headed the national team by that moment for five years. Easily having won three victories at the group stage (3:0 over the Republic of South Africa, 4:0 over Saudi Arabia, 2:1 over Denmark) the French surely left for round of last 16. Next, the tournament hosts, literally, had to gnaw out a victory each round. In round of last 16 only the golden goal of Laurent Blanc allowed The Tri-colors to overcome the uncompromising Paraguay. In quarterfinal France replayed Italy only in a penalty shootout (in regulation and overtime, draw 0:0 was recorded). In semi-finals the hosts, thanks to a double of Lilian Thuram, outplayed the tournament main sensation — the Croatia national football team. Further, the “match of the century” would wait for France — for the first time ever, the France national football team could reach the World Cup final. The Brazilians, that time World Cup Champions, — were an obvious favourite of the match. However, the French surpassed sceptics and beat the opponent. Two goals in the final were scored by Zinedine Zidane who would become the main star of world football for the next decade. France became the 1998 World Cup Champion!
8 years later, in the World Cup in Germany, France could reach the final again, but this time conceded in a decisive match to Italy on a penalty. In 2006 we saw, perhaps, one of the strongest France national football teams in the history, but the tragic case in the final didn’t allow Raymond Domenechs players to win the most prestigious cup for the second time in the history. But first things first. The France national football team was coming to the tournament for a long, having drawn in the first two rounds twice against not the strongest opponents (South Korea and Switzerland). Only thanks to a victory over Togo in the last round, The Tri-colors could get into round of last 16. But already in the play-offs we saw absolutely another team. In round of last 16 France, loosing in the course of the match, could break the situation and score three goals into the net of the strong Spain team which before won three confident victories. In the quarterfinal, thanks to Thierry Henry’s goal, France kicked out the Brazil national team (the defending World Cup Champion) from play-offs. With the similar score in the semi-final France outplayed Portugal — the only goal on the Zidane’s score.
The final France-Italy match, first of all, was remembered by Zidane’s sending-off. The match took place in equal fight. Regulation time came to the end with score 1:1, into extra time the French were closer to victory, however the goalkeeper of Italy played perfectly. The match was predetermined in the 109th minute when Zidane, the best kicker of France, headed the breast of the defender of Italy national football team Materazzi and was sent off instantly. As a result, in a penalty shootout the Italians were stronger. France won the World Cup silver.
In the France national football team assets there are two victories in the UEFA European Championship, one silver medal of the European Championship and also two victories in the Confederations Cup. Victories in the European Championship happened in 1984 (Michel Platini’s era) and 2000 (Zidane’s era). The French got a Confederations Cup twice in a row in 2001 and 2003 (Zidane’s era).
The today’s generation of the France national football team is young, talented and hungry to victories. The national team under the leadership of Didier Deschamps has already won silver medals in the home 2016 European Championship and now is striving for the World Cup medals. The team has a very strong attacking line led by Paul Pogba and Antoine Griezmann. Also, the forwards Alexandre Lacazette and Kylian Mbappe stand out. Practically all footballers of the France national football team represent the leading clubs of Europe and are in the prime of life.