December 9, 2022

France’s World Cup win was the “supreme coronation” after the “hurt” of losing in the last European Championship final, said coach Didier Deschamps.

Les Bleus beat Croatia 4-2 in Moscow on Sunday to become world champions for the second time in their history.

They lost 1-0 to Portugal in the final of Euro 2016, which they hosted.

“It’s a young team, who are on the top of the world. Some are champions at the age of 19,” said Deschamps, who captained France to glory in 1998.

The 49-year-old is just the third man – after Brazil’s Mario Zagallo and Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer – to win the competition as a player and coach.

He said the victory was “not about me”, adding: “It’s the players who won the game.”

France’s first goal came from a controversially awarded free-kick, while the second was a penalty given after referee Nestor Pitana consulted his video assistants and overturned his original decision.

Deschamps felt his side “deserved to win”.

“We did not play a huge game but we showed mental quality,” he said. “And we scored four goals anyway.

“For 55 days, we have done a lot of work. We are proud to be French, to be Bleus.

“The group worked so hard and we had some tough moments along the way. It hurt so much to lose the European Championship two years ago, but it made us learn too.”

France took the lead after 18 minutes when Antoine Griezmann’s free-kick deflected in off Mario Mandzukic’s head – but Croatia deservedly equalised courtesy of Ivan Perisic’s left-foot finish.

Griezmann’s penalty, awarded for handball against Perisic after a lengthy delay while VAR was consulted, put France back in front.

They looked to have wrapped it up with two goals in six minutes from Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe either side of the hour mark, but Mandzukic pulled one back.

Griezmann said France “managed to make the difference” despite Croatia starting game strongly.

“I do not know where I am!” he said at full-time. “I am really happy. It was a very difficult match.

“That is the France we love. There are different origins but we are all united. There are many players who come from different horizons but we all play for the same jersey and for our country.”

You do not award that penalty’ – Dalic

Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic said the controversial penalty decision “should not take away from France’s win”.

But he added, “you do not award that penalty” in a World Cup final.

“In terms of luck over the tournament, we lacked that today with respect to the first two goals,” said Dalic.

“The first one was an own goal even though we were dominant and there were no threats to our goal. We equalised and the players did not let up, but then the penalty went against us.

“I respect the referee and he did what he saw. I never meant to be negative.”

Dalic added VAR “is good for football” but “when it goes against you, it is bad”.

The 51-year-old added: “Over the past two months we have worked very hard. It was beautiful to work with the lads and I am very happy with the time we have had together.

“I will take a breather. I never take a decision overnight. At this moment I am not thinking about anything other than going safely back to Croatia and taking a rest.”

Croatia is the smallest country to reach a World Cup final since Uruguay in 1950 when they beat England in the last four.

They were hoping to prevent a repeat of the 1998 semi-final when hosts France beat them en route to lifting the trophy.

Assistant coach Drazen Ladic said Griezmann’s penalty “knocked the wind out” of his side.

“First of all I want to congratulate France,” he said. “We are sad but proud at the same time.

“We wanted to win the World Cup so much but that’s football.

“The French did not surprise us, we let in two soft goals coupled with an own goal and a penalty.”

Captain Luka Modric, who was awarded the Golden Ball for the best player at the tournament, said his side “have no regrets”.

He felt they were the “better team for much of the game”.

“Unfortunately, some clumsy goals swung it their way,” said Modric. “They will be celebrating but we can hold our heads high.

“When the emotions settle, we will be able to analyse more clearly.”

On winning the Golden Ball, he added: “I am proud of the award. The incredible fans’ support makes me even happier.

“You know that despite the defeat you’ve achieved something big, but it’s hard when you come so close and fall short.”


Source: BBC

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