Under the guidance of Aimé Jacquet, France made it all the way to the World Cup final in 1998 as host nation, and exceeded expectation.
Les Bleus had failed to qualify for the previous two World Cups so were thought to be short of experience.
The national team of 1998 reflected the ethnic diversity of the country. Armenia, Guadeloupe, New Caledonia, Argentina, Ghana, Senegal, Italy, French Guiana, Portugal, and Martinique, with the genius of the team — Zinédine Zidane — having been born in Marseille to Algerian parents.
Their run to the finals was looked upon as favourable, but they proved on the way they had plenty of quality to negate any lack of tournament experience.
Their group consisted of Saudi Arabia, South Africa and Denmark. They won all three games fairly comfortably, but in the second round it took a Golden Goal from Laurent Blanc to finally get past a stubborn Paraguay.
A quarter final against Italy was a trying affair, but France were eventually victorious on penalties. In the semi-final they had to come from behind to beat Croatia and the goals came from an unlikely source; Lillian Thuram scored his first and last goals in a France shirt to send Les Bleus to the final.
Yesterday we saw how Brazil got to the final and how their preparations were hampered by Ronaldo’s troubles.
France took advantage of Brazil’s dazed state, and took the lead on 27 minutes through Zidane who headed home Emmanuel Petit’s corner:
Just before half-time France take full control as Zidane heads home another corner…
What Happened Next?
Brazil had a man sent off in the second half and Petit completed Brazil’s misery in the final minute as they cruised to their first and only ever World Cup title.