Several prominent first-team players were missing from France's squad for the 2022 World Cup. It is possible to have mistaken the entire team for being similarly absent until they came alive during the last 10 minutes of normal time, following a thrilling 3-3 final against Argentina that ended in a 4-2 loss on penalties. When the tournament began, France's attempt to retain its World Cup looked ambitious. The squad is devoid of Paul Pogba, N'Golo Kante, Presnel Kimpembe, Mike Maignan, and Christoper Nkunku. After this, Karim Benzema and Lucas Hernandez were injured and were unable to continue playing. In spite of this, Didier Deschamps’ side triumphed in the final, inspiring a generation of believers. The team did not look back after hammering Australia 4-1 in their opening game, with the exception of a 1-0 upset loss to Tunisia, a dead rubber where backup players were fielded.

Kylian Mbappe lived up to his promise to stand out as the best player in the world, scoring eight goals and two assists during the tournament, including the second hat-trick of the World Cup final in history. Also, Olivier Giroud struck gold, surpassing Thierry Henry's goal-scoring record. With his goal in the quarterfinal, the ex-Premier League star eliminated England from the competition. A career revival also occurred for Adrien Rabiot and Ousmane Dembele, both talented players whose promise seemed to be fading at their clubs. Griezmann's transition from inconsistent forward to brilliant attacking midfielder was the greatest reboot of all. It was thanks to his creativity that the team was able to make it to the finals which few anticipated. Despite this, the magic that led France to a showpiece match against Argentina eluded them for the majority of the match. The 40th minute was terrible for Giroud and Dembele, who had given away a penalty. He could argue bad luck played a part since replays show he barely touched Angel Di Maria.

It was a superb passing move involving Lionel Messi, Julian Alvarez, and Alexis Mac Allister that ended with Di Maria stroking the ball into the goal. France displayed a strangely passive display. In the end, the winners scored a goal that was not resisted by their opponents. With so much quality removed from the teams that participated in this World Cup, very few would have reached the final. Several years ago, Kante and Pogba were the midfielders who lifted the iconic trophy. It is Benzema who holds the Ballon d'Or. Chelsea is in the process of acquiring Nkunku, a highly regarded prodigy. Hernandez has won the World Cup and the Champions League. In the absence of that group, there was bound to be some impact. On the contrary, it is impressive that their cavernous absence was not felt until the end of the match.

However, this does not excuse their performance in the first 80 minutes of the game. It was this France team, the one that was present in Qatar, that reached the finals of the World Cup. In terms of quality, they could not compete with Argentina. It is quite another matter that they were only on par with them in terms of effort with 10 minutes remaining. Deschamps must bear some responsibility for this situation. It is likely, however, that French players know they did not do enough for much of the game. Seeing their devastating form at a time when things were at their most desperate was all the more frustrating. Mbappe's two goals in the last 10 minutes gave his team hope. During the dramatic extra period, the PSG prodigy once again came up to cancel out Messi's apparent victory. It was during this period that France demonstrated the spirit needed to be world champions.

It is a terrible failure on the part of France, but it does not have to be a disaster. It is possible to obtain youthful quality. They are all under the age of 23. Mbappe, Nkunku, Eduardo Camavinga, Ibrahima Konate, Aurelien Tchouameni and William Saliba are all under the age of 23. There is a good chance they will have another opportunity to participate in one of football's most prestigious tournaments. Rather than allowing this disappointment to demotivate them, they need to use it as a motivator. In the future, they must never again let Les Bleu's lack of effort on the big stage affect their performance. During the 2022 World Cup, France achieved a number of remarkable achievements. For a while, people won't understand how special it is. A World Cup final is seldom kind to the loser after the game. Nevertheless, it is impressive that your team made it to the biggest game in the sport despite missing half of your best players from the starting lineup.

By Rashmi Goel

You Might Be Interested In