World Cup Daily: France is equal parts style and grit

After each matchday of the 2018 FIFA World Cup,’s World Cup Daily blog will recap the day’s events, and look ahead to the next day’s slate of games.

Here’s what happened on Tuesday, in case you missed it…


France 1, Belgium 0 in Saint Petersburg: Match report || match stats


Vive Les Bleus!
France has advanced to the World Cup final for the third time in history, its passage through to the title game owing us much to the grit and determination it’s shown as to the silky stylish play they’ve displayed in Russia.

Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann will quite rightly hog the majority of headlines and media attention. They’ve been absolutely integral to Les Bleus’ run, Mbappé with his blinding pace and acceleration, and his fearlessness in taking on opposing defenders; Griezmann with his goals (a team-high three) and his ability to set others up (two assists). Only England’s Harry Kane (six goals) has been involved in more goals at this World Cup than Griezmann.

But as dangerous and lithe as the French have been going forward, they’ve been even better in defending their goal. Tuesday’s win over Belgium was their fourth clean sheet of the tournament, and a big reason why France’s defence has been so difficult to breach has been because of Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane. Rivals at club level (Umtiti plays for Barcelona, Varane at Real Madrid), they have combined to great effect at this tournament, staking a rightful claim to being the best centre-back duo in international soccer. Varane and Umtiti have also contributed to the attack, with this World Cup marking the first time since 1998 that three French defenders scored in the same tournament – Benjamin Pavard has also found the back of the net for France.

They …read more


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