Euro 1984 is fondly remembered by many avid viewers of the game as one of the greatest international tournaments to date. This was in no small way attributed to Michel Platini’s heroics. The Frenchman went on to score in every single game his side took part in, leading host country France to the title and tallying an impressive nine goals in the process.
In the lead up to what will be a historic UEFA Euro 2020, The Cult of Calcio will be offering a look into the past, turning over the extraordinary moments that have been a part of one of the greatest events in international sport. Today, we begin with a look at the very beginning, a tournament that would belong to one man: USSR’s legendary goalkeeper Lev Yashin.
The France squad that just won their second World Cup title didn’t make our jaws drop. Beauty and appearance were rather left to the Gioconda’s smile and to Napoleonic conquers. But in football, those who win are always right. And so, The Cult of Calcio’s final Top 11 lineup could not but feature many French – pardon, World Champions – representatives.
The World Cup Winners remains an elite club with very strict admission rules. France covered themselves with glory for the second time, while brusquely rejecting Croatia’s application to join the club. The Final in Moscow ended 4-2 for Didier Deschamps’ side, but we need to thank both teams for giving life to one of the most entertaining finals in decades.
A flash in the night of Saint Petersburg, Samuel Umtiti’s header brought France back to a World Cup Final, 12 years after the bitter outcome of Berlin 2006. Didier Deschamps’ side prevailed in their Semi Final over Belgium with a lone goal by their Barcelona-based center back. Just like 4 years ago in Brazil, the Red Devils faded away in the decisive moment.
Et voila! Without Edinson Cavani’s genius – kept at bay by an injury – Uruguay evidenced their limits, and bent their knee to France. Les Bleus won 2-0 their Quarter Final match in Nizhny Novgorod with goals by Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann, showing cynicism and team solidarity. France’s next opponents in the Semi Finals will be Belgium.
He is not even 20, and maybe that’s the least impressive thing about Kylian Mbappé, who led France to an epic 4-3 over Argentina yesterday in the first World Cup Round of 16 game, at the end of an unforgettable battle that also featured sensational goals on the part of Angel Di Maria and Benjamin Pavard. Absent without leave, once again, was Leo Messi.
It took a little help from technology for France to overcome a gritty Australia, and gain their first three points in their World Cup run. The French benefited of the first penalty ever assigned via VAR in a world competition, but coach Didier Deschamps and his boys left Kazan with more doubts than certainties, despite goals scored by Antoine Griezmann and Paul Pogba.
“You will take the last penalty, because you have always been decisive so far.” This is what coach Marcello Lippi told Fabio Grosso before the penalty shootouts that determined the outcome of World Cup 2006 Final between Italy and France. Lippi’s choice to bet on a player who was not even part of his original starting lineup proved to be a winning one.
Sometimes, you make it to history not because of what you did, but of what you didn’t do. The France squad that won World Cup 1998 featured strikers like Thierry Henry and David Trezeguet. Yet, their starting forward was Stéphane Guivarc’h. Today’s World Cup Meteor (Number 9 on the pitch, and in our countdown) is the striker who won a world title without scoring a goal.