France, Finally Showing Its Class, Wears World Cup Crown


Vatti Corp Ltd, based in China

MOSCOW — France’s first goal arrived off a Croatian’s head, and its second only after the intervention of the Argentine referee.

But it was the next two goals, the low, hard shots that delivered the World Cup back into French hands, the goals that crowned its latest generation of stars, that confirmed what everyone knew even before its 4-2 victory over Croatia was complete: France was the best team in the field this summer in Russia, a potent mix of greatness, grit and good fortune. And now it can call itself the world champion again.

“We do not realize yet what we just did,” left back Lucas Hernández said. “When we arrive tomorrow in Paris, we will realize.”

The title is France’s second, and its first since it won on home soil in 1998, and it ended a thrilling run by Croatia over the past five weeks. The Croats survived three consecutive extra-time games — and two penalty shootouts — in the knockout rounds to reach their first final, and they even had the better of the game on Sunday. But bad bounces and a better opponent made all the difference.

“We have no regrets because we were the better team for much of the game,” said Croatia midfielder Luka Modric, who was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s outstanding player. “Unfortunately, some clumsy goals swung it their way.

“They will be celebrating, but we can hold our heads high.”

France fought off its opponent when it had to, and punished it when it could.

And when the final whistle blew, its players raced off the bench in glee, gathering in jumping hugs and tossing their coach, Didier Deschamps, in the air. Deschamps, a midfielder on the 1998 France team, had become something a father figure for his young team, a guiding hand on the wheel, keeping everything in line on a methodical march toward the title.

His 2018 team will be remembered for what it was: a team of exceptional talent and ruthless efficiency, a group in which every player knew his job and performed it flawlessly.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

Article type: metered
User Type: anonymous web
User Status:
Campaign ID: 1
Cxense type: free
User access status: 0
Subscribe now to our Premium Plan for an ad-free and unlimited reading experience!
   

Next In Football

Soccer-Brahimi strike seals 3-1 win for Nice over Marseille
Soccer-Barcelona thrash Sevilla 3-0 to extend their LaLiga lead
Soccer-Inter beat Milan 1-0 in derby clash
Soccer-Bayern go back on top by ending winless run with 4-2 victory at Wolfsburg
Soccer-Kane's record-breaking goal seals Tottenham win over Man City
Soccer-Late Gradit goal rescues point for Lens against Brest
Soccer-Greek league game scrapped after officials discover goal height difference
Soccer-Kane breaks Greaves goal record for Tottenham
Soccer-Navas shines on debut as Forest edge out Leeds
Teong Kim: Some players need more time to mature

Others Also Read