Blues in the final by force of habit

French football took too long to play the glorious loser role to dare to be picky. On Wednesday, December 14, at the Al-Beit stadium in the north of Qatar, although the French team did not play their best score in the World Cup, they avoided false notes and prevailed over Morocco in the semi-finals (2:0).

The blues won a modest victory on the lawn, in the antipodes of the intense and endless joyous displays of the Argentines, who won (3-0) the day before against the Croatians. A sense of duty, no doubt, comes from respect for a braver but less committed opponent. Captain Hugo Lloris’ team-mates knew they would be blamed for their elimination after facing an earthquake of enthusiasm from Morocco, the first African team in the last four of the world tournament. Although they achieved their initial goal of a semi-final, after upsetting the English in the quarter-finals five days earlier.

There was St. Denis, Munich, then St. Petersburg; now it will be Al-Khor. History will remember that it was in this area of ​​30,000 people in the middle of the desert that the French team qualified for their fourth World Cup final in twenty-four years.

Also read: France-Morocco: Relive the Blues’ World Cup finals, the reactions and the scenes of joy

For the Blues, a qualification in the final evokes a train arriving on time. However, this is a rare challenge: until 1998, the date of the first tricolor coronation, the French had never reached the final, while the first edition of the competition dates back to 1930. And in the event of a title – a third – against Lionel Messi’s Argentina on Sunday (16:00 Paris time), the Blues will join Italy (1934 and 1938) and Pele’s Brazil (1958 and 1962) as two successive world champions. is the only choice to win the trophy.

Great fluff

After that, France’s brazen, even arrogant, success is reminiscent of its former best soccer foe: Germany. Between 1974 and 1990, the Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) played the same number of finals for the two crowns. And the West German players have shattered the dreams of several estheticians: Johan Cruyff’s Netherlands in 1974, Diego Maradona’s Argentina in 1990 or Michel Platini’s France in two semi-finals in Spain in 1982 and in Mexico in 1986.

    Didier Deschamps celebrates the Blues' victory during the FIFA World Cup semi-final at Al Beit Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, December 14, 2022.

Indomitable, French football now seems to have the force of habit. Five key players before the tournament and two before the match – despite absences and injuries, the Blues give the impression that they are fed only by victory. This magnificent transformation is due to one man, Didier Deschamps. Starting a competition with the Basques on the bench is not necessarily a guarantee of victory, but it greatly increases your chances.

Also read: The article is reserved for our subscribers 2022 World Cup: Didier Deschamps, the owners and a happy group of substitutes

A high-profile “HRD”, “Father of Victory” and champion of pragmatism, the French coach, who is sometimes irritated by these caricatures, has nothing to do with denying the clichés in Qatar. The beautiful game is not his problem. It’s also a very subjective concept in a sport that can be practiced in many different styles. Rather than being satisfied with the quality of matches, Deschamps’ priority is for his team to beat one opponent after another. It’s as scary as it is basic. “Even in difficult times, there was quality, experience, spirit of conquestwelcomed It’s always a source of great pride when you get the results you want. »

France's Randal Kolo Mouani scores the second goal for the Blues during their semi-final match against Morocco Qualifiers at Al Beit Stadium in Al Khor, Qatar, December 14, 2022.

If that means dropping the ball to Morocco, who are used to suffering so far at the World Cup, too bad. The coach has faith in his group and it seems born to embody the concept of resilience. Midfielder Adrien Rabiot and defender Dayot Upamecano, who have been replacing non-senior players since November 22, were both injured and unable to play in this semi-final. No, Youssouf Fofana and Ibrahima Konate replaced them without changing the quality of the team.

A state of mind that Griezmann embodies

They’re not always breathtaking, but these Blues aren’t afraid to suffer. Antoine Griezmann is the embodiment of self-sacrifice: at the age of 31, the 2018 world champion agreed to let go of the striker’s star suit to become a master. Half relay player and half playmaker, “Grizou” soaks up kilometers and acts as a defender. “We suffered today and it feels good to suffer”said the man of the match who remained decisive in the attack.

France's Antoine Griezmann and Morocco's Azzedine Ounahi play in the FIFA World Cup semi-final on December 14, 2022 at the Al-Beit Stadium in Al-Khor, Doha.

His fine cross allowed Olivier Giroud to score the winner against England on Saturday. On Wednesday, it was he who evaded the Moroccan player to cross in the direction of Mbappe after five minutes of play, whose counter-attack found Theo Hernandez to open the scoring. He was forced to change his plans to escape the trap of the airtight Moroccan team.

Also read: The article is reserved for our subscribers World Cup 2022: Antoine Griezmann reinvents himself in Blue with intelligence and collective vision

When their strikers don’t succeed, like Giroud’s failures in the first round, the French team turns their backs. Goalkeeper Lloris’ steady hand deflects a superb equalizer from Atlas Lions defender Javad El Yamiq’s acrobatic turn before half-time. “We are a team that knows how to suffer”insists centre-back Jules Kounde, who has been drafted into the right-back position and spent the World Cup respecting his coach’s restrictive instructions for the team.

Kylian Mbappe was involved in both goals tonight, but failed to score after scoring a brace in the round of 16 against Poland. But the Blues found him unexpected successors: Theo Hernandez and Randal Kolo Muani, who left the Blues ten minutes from time. “We all believed in it tonight and were very strong defensively, hopefully we can come back with the trophy” deals with last minute call according to officials.

French forward Kylian Mbappe shares a kiss with Morocco's Ashraf Hakim during the semi-final match on the lawn of Al-Beit Stadium on December 14, 2022 in Al Khor, Qatar.

At 22 years of age and twenty selections, controlled midfield boss Aurélien Tchouaméni demonstrates the team’s demanding and conquering mentality. “We must be ready, we must realize that we have the opportunity to write history. » Even if it means spoiling an icon like Lionel Messi, who was an unsuccessful finalist in 2014 and is chasing a world title. These Blues are now ghostbusters.

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