France's route to the World Cup final


"You have to accept it, congratulate France and wish them well for the final".

Belgium threatened several times, sending crosses into the box repeatedly over the final 45 minutes and into stoppage time, but could not beat Lloris for an equalizer. I am very happy for my players.

France, after all, is a team in the mould of its coach Deschamps, the former holding midfielder who could emulate Brazilian Mario Zagallo and Germany's Franz Beckenbauer by winning the competition as both a player and manager. But its quality - he out-jumped the taller Marouane Fellaini to head in a corner - suggested there could be more where that came from.

"I couldn't ask more of the players' attitude", he said.

Belgium paid the price for failing to take its chances against France but will now have to shake off its disappointment and focus on finishing third at the World Cup, its coach Roberto Martinez said after his team's defeat in the semifinal.

Barcelona star Samuel Umtiti scored the only goal of the match in the second half after heading into the net an Antoine Griezmann's corner in the 51st minute.

"[The France goal] is the type of detail that counts in the semi-final of the World Cup".

France's route to the World Cup final
France's route to the World Cup final

In scenes reminiscent of France's 1998 World Cup win, delirious crowds surged up the Champs-Elysees avenue and surrounded the Arc de Triomphe, waving flags and letting off flares.

The goal gave the French license for a more expansive approach but not at the expense of keeping their defensive shape and they turned the screws on De Bruyne and Hazard by quickly closing them down.

In preparing for this match, Les Bleus are well-aware that all the frustration of coming up short in their last two major tournament finals can be washed away on Sunday.

Umtiti, and particularly Raphael Varane, were excellent at the back for France. "We play better football, in a style that suits me". Deschamps rested the likes of Mbappe and Pogba while Andreas Cornelius ploughed a lone furrow up front for the Danes in a match which saw the first Mexican wave start after just 21 minutes.

With Ngolo Kante marshalling the effort, France were on De Bruyne and Hazard like a flash, snuffing out the slightest opportunity for them to probe the French defence.

"What we did 20 years ago will always remain, but you have to live in the present, you can't look in the rear-view mirror, you have to move forward", explained Deschamps.

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