Everything you need to know about World Cup finalists France
Tennis players Suzanne Lenglen, Amelie Mauresmo and Marion Bartoli are among France’s sporting heroes.
France will play either England or Croatia in the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday afternoon after beating Belgium 1-0 in their semi-final.
Here, Press Association Sport details everything you need to know about the Les Bleus.
World Cup record
Like England, France have won one World Cup, and also like England it took place on home soil. France beat Brazil 3-0 in the 1998 final with two goals from Zinedine Zidane and one from Emmanuel Petit. France’s success came against a side which had won the previous World Cup and would go on to win the following tournament in 2002 and contained players such as Roberto Carlos, Ronaldo and Cafu. Les Bleus also reached the final in 2006 but they were beaten 5-3 on penalties by Italy. France have also finished third on two occasions – in 1958 and 1986 – and fourth once, in 1982.
Zidane is considered one of the best players of all time, winning man of the match in France’s only World Cup win and playing an important role in their success in the European Championship two years later. He also captained France to the final of the 2006 World Cup when he famously ended his international career in a moment of madness, headbutting Italian defender Marco Materazzi and getting sent off. Their all-time leading goalscorer is former Arsenal striker Thierry Henry, who scored 51 goals in 123 caps between 1997 and 2010. Other famous players include Michel Platini, who captained the country to the European Championship title in 1984 when he scored nine goals in five games. He went on to score 41 goals in 72 internationals.
Current danger men
Teenager Kylian Mbappe has come alive in this tournament and became the first teenager to score two goals in a World Cup match since Pele in 1958 when he hit a brace in the 4-3 round-of-16 win over Argentina. His success has drawn comparisons with former French great Thierry Henry and a young Michael Owen. Antoine Griezmann leads the line for France and has scored three goals in the tournament in an international career that has seen him find the net 23 times in 60 games, while midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante offer solid support.
Didier Deschamps has managed the national team since 2012 and previously represented France 103 times, including as part of the 1998 World Cup-winning squad. He guided the team to the quarter-finals of the competition in 2014 when they were beaten 1-0 by tournament winners Germany. In 2017, after France had reached the final of Euro 2016 where they were beaten 1-0 by Portugal, Deschamps signed a new contract until 2020.
World Cup 2018 so far
France won their opening game of the tournament 2-1 against Australia, although the VAR technology proved more of a talking point than the game itself. France then beat Peru 1-0 to secure their place in the knockout stage of the competition, before an uneventful 0-0 draw against Denmark attracted boos from fans at the final whistle. Their round-of-16 clash with Argentina was one of the games of the tournament as a brace from Mbappe and further strikes from Griezmann and Benjamin Pavard saw them prevail 4-3. Raphael Varane and Griezmann then guided them past another South American team as Uruguay were beaten 2-0 before they advanced to the final thanks to a 1-0 win over Belgium courtesy of Samuel Umtiti’s goal.
France extends from the English Channel to the Mediterranean and its population in 2018 was estimated at 66.9 million. It borders Spain, Belgium, Luxembourg, Switzerland, Italy and Andorra.
A nation famous for…
France is famous for its culinary tastes, in particular its cheese and wine, and is the only producer of champagne in the world. The country has been one of the major influencers on the arts, boasting authors such as Albert Camus and Victor Hugo. Capital Paris is one of the cultural capitals of the world. French sporting stars include six-time Wimbledon champion Suzanne Lenglen, further SW19 winners Amelie Mauresmo and Marion Bartoli, five-time Tour de France champion Bernard Hinault and two-time Olympic gold-medal winning swimmer Alain Bernard.