We might have seen only one goal today but France and Belgium entertained with their quality players and tactical battle. This was a world class display from two well-matched teams. Samuel Umtiti was the only name on the scoresheet as Les Bleus reached a third final in the last 6 World Cups, the most any team has achieved in that period of time.
Belgium started the game well, stifling France with their pressing and quick ball retrieval. Les Bleus did not panick but kept their shape and defended deep, attempting the occasional raid in the Belgian side of the field. Slowly France grew in the game and started attacking. Courtois and Lloris both made very good saves to keep it 0-0. As soon as the first half started, Samuel Umtiti’s header from a Griezmann carressed Fellaini’s tuft of curly hair to end in the Courtois’ net. 1-0.
The first goal was always going to be important since both teams have excellent defensive players. The face of the Belgians said it all. It was going to be tough to get back. They kept trying till the end but France held strong and played on the counter. Les Bleus had several chances to double their lead but they were always stopped by Courtois or one of his defenders and the game stayed open. Ultimately, France won the game.
Varane, decisive in the quarter finals against Uruguay, and Umtiti were crucial to this France win. Umtiti scored the only goal. Varane was sound defensively and showed how much he has matured from the 2014 World Cup. The Real Madrid – Barcelona center back partnership is working well. Paul Pogba was another impressive presence in the French team, marauding all over the midfield trying to defend, create and keep the ball. He almost assisted Tolisso in the end but Courtois pulled yet another great save.
Deschamps, criticized beyond all reason before and during the tournament, has been vindicated. The French tactician has now reached the final in two consecutive major championships. His experience captaining France to glory in 1998 is paying off for his team.
France have had the toughest to the final. They will hope to win a second World Cup title on Sunday.
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