DOHA, Qatar – In World Cup history, there have only ever been two nations that have won consecutive championships. Italy was the first to repeat (1934 and 1938). Next came Brazil (1958 and 1962).
According to how things are currently developing, France may be the next country.
Four years ago, in Russia, Les Bleus won it all. Now, following a brilliant 3 to 1 victory over Poland on Sunday night at Al Thumama Stadium, Didier Deschamps’ team appears ready to hoist another trophy in exactly two weeks.
Karim Benzema, France’s Ballon d’Or-winning striker, is not needed. He was forced to withdraw from the World Cup before it started due to an ailment he picked up in training. The outstanding central midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, who were instrumental four years ago but were injured and unable to travel to Qatar, are also not necessary.
To have that kind of ability and depth on a World Cup team, any nation would give up their right leg and possibly their right arm. Without it, they’d probably face significant difficulties. But not with this group.
Benzema was replaced by 36-year-old Olivier Giroud, who scored France’s first goal in the 45th minute. The 6-foot-2 striker in the box received a perilous pass from Kylian Mbappé, who then moved himself and grabbed the ball a little behind his body before firing with his left foot just out of Wojciech Szczsny’s grasp.
Giroud’s strike overtook storied forward Thierry Henry’s record, which had stood for the previous 13 years, and became him the new all-time leading scorer in France history with 52 goals.
Deschamps stated, “Olivier has always been a key player. Four years ago, he didn’t score, but he was a key player for us, and today we’re seeing his talent. He received a lot of criticism, but he persisted and broke the record, which was extremely challenging to break.
Mbappé entered the press conference room as Deschamps was finishing his sentence. “And here’s another guy alongside me who may shatter it one day,” the French manager remarked, turning to face his young star.
Everyone laughed, but that’s only because it’s accurate. Against Poland, Mbappé scored two outstanding goals. The first came via an outstanding strike that found the top left corner of the net in the 74th minute. No defender closed in on him to stop the strike because it was so unstoppable. During the final minute of regulation time, he scored his second goal. Marcus Thuram passed the ball to him, and he sent a rocket into the upper right corner. This time, Polish defenders tried to apply pressure, but it was unsuccessful.
Deschamps stated that Kylian “can make a difference on his own in a match.” France needed a terrific Kylian Mbappé tonight, and they got one. He always plays with such delight, and we all want to share these smiles with him.
Mbappé, who is 23 years old, possesses both talent and selflessness as well as talent and confidence.
With five goals in four games, he now holds the Qatar Golden Boot lead in the former category. With his two goals against Poland, he has surpassed Cristiano Ronaldo, who has eight, by tying Lionel Messi for the most World Cup goals in tournament history with nine. In order to put things into perspective even further, Mbappé is competing in his second World Cup and is attempting to win his second consecutive championship whereas Messi, 35, is competing in his fifth World Cup and has yet to claim the championship.
With regard to the latter, Mbappé has passed over press conferences after games because he is so intent on winning another World Cup. In fact, he volunteered to cover the penalty FIFA would have imposed on the French Football Federation for his absences. After being selected Man of the Match, Mbappé attended the press conference on Sunday and took some time to apologize and clarify.
“This is the competition of my dreams, and I’m pleased to be here. I wanted to be ready for the tournament and I am, and so far, things are going well.” – Mbappé