By Paul Giblin
MOSCOW Russia (Xinhua) -- France coach
Didier Deschamps spent a large part of his post-game press
conference in the wake of his side’s 1-0 win over Belgium in the
World Cup semi-finals speaking about his side’s "potential".
This is after all a team which has just qualified for the World
Cup finals, two years after reaching the final of Euro 2016 on
Rather than potential, surely this France team is already a
reality: but take a look at the side which is to face Croatia in
Sunday’s World Cup final and it is easy to see why Deschamps is
not just pleased by the present, but excited about the future.
This is a great team and it is likely to get better and to be
around for a long time.
Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris is one of the "veterans" of the squad
at 31, but 31 isn’t old for a goalkeeper and there is no reason
he should not be around for the 2020 Euros or even the 2022
Indeed the only members of the squad who will probably be too
old for 2022 are 32-year old defender Adil Rami, the oldest
member of the group, plus 31-year-old striker Olivier Giroud and
midfielder Blaise Matuidi.
A look at the French defense says it all: on Sunday,
Deschamps is likely to field Lucas Hernandez (22), Benjamin
Pavard (22), Raphael Varane (25) and Samuel Umtiti (24).
That defense could be together not just in 2022, but also in
Deschamps also highlights that despite their youth, they have
Umtiti has won La Liga and two Copas del Rey with Barcelona,
Hernandez lifted the Europa League with Atletico Madrid this
season and Varane has three Champions League winner’s medals
with Real Madrid.
Their replacements are Benjamin Mendy (23), Presnel Kimpembe
(22) and Djibril Sidibe (25). All are at major European clubs.
The same is true of the midfield: although Paul Pogba said
earlier in the tournament this could be his last World Cup, at
just 25, that was likely just false modesty - he’ll be there in
N’Golo Kante is 27 and will be in Qatar in 2022, as will
Corentin Tolisso (22), Nabil Fekir (24) and Thomas Lemar (22).
In attack, Griezmann is just 27, Florian Thauvin 25, Ousmane
Dembele 21 and a certain Kylian Mbappe just 19.
Mbappe is already one of the sensations of the tournament and
he isn’t just going to be around in 2020. It’s likely that he’ll
still be playing in 2026 and maybe even in 2030!
After their win in the 2008 Euros, Spain dominated European
and world football for four years, claiming the 2010 World Cup
and the 2012 European Championship.
Whatever happens on Sunday, this France side now has the
chance to dominate the game for four years and beyond.
Matuidi commends coach
Deschamps as France prepare for World Cup final
By Michael Place MOSCOW Russia
(Xinhua) -- France midfielder Blaise
Matuidi has praised French coach Didier Deschamps for moulding a
team "in his own image" as Les Bleus prepare for Sunday’s World
Cup final against Croatia.
France are the bookmakers’ favorites to win the clash at
Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium after they showed impressive defensive
discipline under their 1998 World Cup-winning coach, who was
himself renowned as a no-nonsense midfielder.
"He has created a team in his own image and I think that’s
important," Matuidi told a press conference on Friday.
"He’s trying to recreate his glorious past as a player and so
far everything is working.
It [France’s progress to the final] hasn’t happened by
France advanced to their third World Cup decider in 20 years
by taking top spot in Group C before winning their knockout
stage matches against Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium, each
without needing extra time.
Croatia, meanwhile, have had a grueling path to the final,
with all of their past three matches - against Denmark, Russia
and England - going to extra time. On top of that, Zlatko
Dalic’s men also have one less day to recover from their
But Matuidi said he did not expect fatigue to be a
contributing factor as Croatia strive to win football’s most
coveted trophy for the first time.
"We will be facing a very good team, with players that have a
very high level and a lot of experience so we need to be
focused," the 31-year-old Juventus player said.
"It’s the game of our lives and there will be pressure.
"But we have to be positive and not let that inhibit us."
Matuidi had words of support for Les Bleus striker Olivier
Giroud, who has yet to score in this tournament.
"Olivier has done a lot for the team," Matuidi said.
"He is a great player for us and we are happy with the way he
"He has been a little bit frustrated not to score, but it
doesn’t matter when we win.
"His work rate has been very important, both offensively and