El Paisano

World Cup: France the first World Cup finalist

The+French+celebrate+post-whistle+after+reaching+the+2018+World+Cup+final.+Photo+credit%3A+Zurab+Kurtsikidze%2FEPA%2C+via+Shutterstock.
The French celebrate post-whistle after reaching the 2018 World Cup final. Photo credit: Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA, via Shutterstock.

The French celebrate post-whistle after reaching the 2018 World Cup final. Photo credit: Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA, via Shutterstock.

The French celebrate post-whistle after reaching the 2018 World Cup final. Photo credit: Zurab Kurtsikidze/EPA, via Shutterstock.

The French national team sealed a 1-0 win over Belgium in St. Petersburg Tuesday to earn a spot in the World Cup final.

Samuel Umtiti’s header from a corner kick went past Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois. The goal put France ahead for good in the 51st minute of the game in a match that saw a toothless Belgium struggle against a narrowly set-up French core.

The game began with the Belgians on the front-foot, enjoying possession with an alert impression. Hugo Lloris was the first keeper asked to make a stop as Jan Vertonghen’s curling shot needed a strong paw from the Frenchman to keep the game scoreless.

But as the game grew, so did Les Blues. Eventually the likes of Antoine Griezmann and and Kylian Mbappe began to impose on the Belgian who were unable to keep up with the quick transition the French midfield provided for its forwards.

N’Golo Kante, Blaise Matuidi, and Paul Pogba’s performance in the center of the park was disciplined and stymied Belgian starlets Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard. The only options with a confined French side for Belgium was to send passes wide and cross balls into the box.

None of which forward Romelu Lukaku was able to get on the end of thanks to the relentless muscle in the box provided by Umtiti and Raphael Varane. Going into the tournament Lukaku was considered a bit of a weak leak in a side that needed chances created from its center forward. His loss of contribution in the squad’s most important match of football in decades.

The sterile attack lead to a straightforward victory for France which are set for a chance to win the tournament for the first time since 1998 when they hosted. Their opponent will be determined tomorrow afternoon when England and Croatia battle for a chance to participate against the French.

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About the Writer
Ignacio Cervantes, Reporter
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World Cup: France the first World Cup finalist