On this day in 1998, France defeated Brazil 3-0 in Paris to win their first World Cup trophy and the man who captained the team has moved to within 90 minutes of getting his hands on the trophy again, this time as a manager.
Didier Deschamps lifted the World Cup 20 years ago and in three days’ time, he guides France as the manager to take on Croatia in the showpiece of the biggest football event on earth, the 2018 World Cup final in Russia.
The French Manager will be looking forward to join both Mário Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer who have won the world cup both as a player and coach on Sunday.
Two wins and a draw in the group stages, and then three straight victories in regular time in the knockout phase, have propelled Les Bleus to their third FIFA World Cup final. France head to the World Cup final for the first time since their defeat to Italy in 2006.
Deschamps has formed a very workable group and is as strong as any team from top to bottom. They can rely on in-form striker Antoine Griezmann and 19-year-old sensation Kylian Mbappe with the help of Kante, Pogba and Matuidi in midfield.
Croatia and France have met once before in the FIFA World Cup: at France 1998. It was Croatia’s first appearance at the tournament, and France’s second event as hosts. They met in the semi-final which saw Croatia take the lead through Davor Suker, only to be denied a place in the final by two goals from Les Bleus’ right-back Lilian Thuram.
The two finalist have met each other a total of five times since 1998. France have the edge with 3 wins to Croatia’s 0 wins and two draws between them. Their most recent meeting was an International Friendly game in 2011, which ended in a 0-0 draw in Paris.
In the group stages, Croatia won all three of their opening round games before battling through three extra time periods to advance through the knockout phase: they needed penalties to overcome Denmark and Russia, and an extra-time goal to prevail over England to reach their first-ever world cup final.
Luka Modric, who has produced moments of brilliance, and a contender for the player of the tournament, will still be needed to deliver the goods for Croatia with the help of their golden generation of Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic, Perisic, Mandzukic and Ivan Rakitic.
1998 World Cup remains Croatia’s most historical campaign at the tournament when they finished in third place and their striker Davor Šuker was the top scorer with 6 goals.
No player is suspended for the final since the yellow cards accumulation was wiped-out in the semi-finals.
The final will take place at 6pm in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday, 15 July.