France He starred in one of the most exciting finals in World Cup history, but was unable to defend his title.
Kylian Mbappé’s hat-trick prolonged the life of Les Bleus in the match for the scepter, first with two goals in regulation time and then with another in extra time. France’s 3-3 draw with Argentina after 120 minutes made penalties necessary.
And in these, fate wanted Lionel Messi won his first World Cup at 35, not that Mbappé won his second at 23.
Even so, the foundations of the French team look solid, three and a half years from the World Cup in the United States, Mexico and Canada in 2026.
EXPECTATION VS. REALITY
France exceeded expectations, which were high as reigning monarch and fourth in the FIFA rankings.
A series of poor results in the UEFA Nations League, including a June home loss to Denmarkenthusiasm had hit, as well as a series of injuries, before and after the squad that would play in Qatar was defined.
Even in the last training session before flying to Doha, striker Christopher Nkunku was injured by a teammate.
The picture worsened in Qatar. Karim Benzema, winner of the Ballon d’Or, was left out of the group due to a serious injury. Lucas Hernández, left back for the 2018 champion team, suffered a knee problem that sidelined him for the rest of the season, just in the first group game against Australia.
The French persevered and improved in the knockout round — against Poland, England and Morocco.
The achievements under the coach Didier Deschamps are impressive: two World Cup finals, where he also participated in the quarterfinals, as well as a duel for the Euro Cup of Nations title and a League of Nations scepter. Nations.
“I’m optimistic,” said the strategist, who has known how to combine experience and youth in his teams. “Many players have participated in these tournaments and have gained experience.”
Only four of the 26 members of the squad have turned 30, and Deschamps has made it clear that he wants to sign the contract extension that the French Football Federation has said it has ready.
On the other hand, this could have been the last World Cup for Olivier Giroud, who at the age of 36 had to take over the position of starting attacker left behind by Benzema, and broke Thierry Henry’s scoring record with the team.
Giroud finished the tournament with four goals and now has 53, two more than Henry. Mbappé accumulates 36 goals and could break the mark before the 2026 World Cup.
Benzema turned 35 on Monday and announced that he will no longer play for the national team. Captain Hugo Lloris will celebrate his 36th birthday in a week.
At 31 years old and after an outstanding World Cup, Antoine Griezmann could well play another.
Deschamps is just 54 years old, and he doesn’t look tired at all after spending 11 years at the job.
WHO IS COMING
The next generation of players who will revitalize Les Bleus have already played in the World Cup.
Several appeared only this year with the national team, their progress in Qatar hastened by injuries and illnesses among more established players.
Aurélien Tchouaméni and his Monaco teammate, Youssouf Fofana, made up the midfield emergency. William Saliba, a 21-year-old defender who plays for Arsenal, also accumulated minutes.
If Lloris retires, 27-year-old Mike Maignan could get more caps. He has already won league titles with Lille and Milan, but was on the long injured list and missed the World Cup.
Nkunku, 25, will emigrate to Chelsea next season, after spending four at Leipzig and shining in the Champions League.
On March 24, Les Bleus will receive the Netherlands at the Stade de France, to kick off the activity of one of the most complicated groups in the qualifying round for the Eurocup.
Greece, Ireland and Gibraltar are also in the group, where the matches will continue until November and from which two teams will go directly to Euro 2024 in Germany.
France also has dates available in September and October for friendly matches against teams from outside Europe.