France failed in the Euro 2016 finale against Portugal when they were left out in the cold in Paris.
Two summers later, the Didier Deschamps managed side achieved the heroics in Russia and won their 2nd World Cup Trophy. They were welcomed like heroes as the winning side paraded the FIFA World Cup 2018 in style.
The team was honoured with an official reception by President Emmanuel Macron. Mr Macron’s office then announced that the players and their coach would receive the country’s highest accolade – the Légion d’Honneur.
France defeated Croatia 4-2 in the final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Sunday. France was once again top class, following their triumph in 1998 – 20 years ago.
France was energetic, disciplined and clinical, throughout the tournament and it gives us the feeling there may be much more to come from Didier Deschamps’ outstanding young team. The French side was the 3rd youngest in Russia and in the time to come, they could well be well advanced to dominate the football world.
With Deschamps at the helm, France knew they have an able leader, who knows how to get the best from the side he picks and stays true to the task.
France could follow Spain’s footsteps
It could be like Spain’s domination from 2008-2012, when former manager Vincente del Bosque’s side won European and world glory. That side just swept apart everybody with some breathtaking ‘Tiki-taka’ football.
This French side is equally special and offers more range and substance especially in defensive skills. Their root at the back boasts of young daring defenders and the setting of play moves further with an exciting range of footballers both in midfield and in the attack.
One should not forget that many of France’s top players weren’t even selected in the 23-man squad for Russia. That shows the depth and France enjoy and it is a warning for several top teams across the globe.
European football has taken centre-stage and in midst of this is the France side, that could now walk away with glory for the near future ahead.
French team is sound in every area
The two teams that took the attack to France in Russia – Argentina and Croatia were both brushed aside by 4-2 margins. France had four clean sheets in seven matches and they went unbeaten.
No team went close to battering the side, in fact, they just couldn’t. The experienced young defence plays week in and week out in club football. Such is their talent.
The likes of Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti represent the two most famed clubs in Europe – Real Madrid and Barcelona, respectively. Going forward, France can once again lay its base in defence and stake claim for titles in store.
The French side boast of a sound attack led by 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe and know that they can always be a threat on the counter. Argentina faced the wrath. Breaking this French defence is not easy and the side knows how to get the job done in regulation time.
Impressively, they won the final without a major contribution from N’golo Kante, their defensive anchor and the best protector of a back-line in the game, who has formed such an excellent partnership with Paul Pogba in the centre of the field.
The pace of Mbappe in time to come will be more profound as he gains valuable experience. The decision making with the final ball will vastly improve in the 2020 European Championship.
This triumph in Russia could be the start of a memorable era for French football. From Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele to the likes of Thomas Lemar and Antoine Griezmann, the French side has many superstars.
It’s a team that does not depend on their star status and there is no ego in place. It’s just sheer determination to learn and get the results. Deschamps’s winning mentality has rubbed off in the side and it could take something monumental to stop them.
Deschamps was lambasted for being over-functional, even boring, two years ago when France lost to Portugal in the Euro 2016 final in Paris but his critics will all be silent now. He is clear on how to manage the side filled with some of the best players in the world and a dearth of young talent, who are in line to be the next big thing in football.
This is not the France of 1984, the European champions with the creative genius of Michel Platini and Jean Tigana and it is a less expressive team than the 1998 World Cup winners dominated by the brilliance of Zinedine Zidane.
It is, however, a thoroughly modern team, with technically accomplished young players, a distinct identity and no obvious weak points.
Coach Deschamps a real steel
While Deschamps has remained a coach who focuses on creating a solid organisational structure, this time he had the additional threat of Mbappe’s pace and skill to go with the cleverness of Antoine Griezmann and the physical presence and positional awareness of Olivier Giroud.
The manager found the right balance and composure and that’s what could once again make him tick in 2020 Euro Championship and the FIFA World Cup 2022 in Qatar.
“We did not play a huge game but we showed mental quality. And we scored four goals anyway. They deserved to win,” Deschamps had said post the finale and it was hard to argue with his thoughts.
He is the fulcrum in France’s win with his tactical brilliance and the skills to set the side all across the pitch. Their triumph is indeed fully deserved — there simply was no better all-round team than France in this tournament.
It will be Deschamps’s duty to ensure that the relative youth of the France side is no guarantee of improvement and they will need to show the same kind of hunger and desire.
But it is hard not to feel that Deschamps’ side have another gear available to them and are capable of something really special if they need to. Come 2020 and 2022, France looks in safe hands.