After four long years, we are approaching the world’s most anticipated tournament. The 2022 FIFA World Cup. Last time, Mother Russia hosted the event, with France claiming their second title, in twenty years.
This time, we venture out to Qatar, of all places. Because the summer weather isn’t friendly in Qatar, the event will be held in late November to early December. The sheer controversy to this deserves to be acknowledged separately.
An odd phenomenon started in 1998. France, on home soil, dominated the tournament to win their first World Cup. A 3-0 cruising over Brazil made them prime candidates to replicate success in 2002. How wrong we were.
In the following World Cup, hosted by South Korea and Japan, France faced Senegal, Uruguay, and Denmark, in Group A. France lost to Senegal and Denmark, for a total of three goals to zero. A tie against Uruguay did nothing for the Frenchmen, as they had lost to Senegal already. Fans witnessed a shocking early exit. Brazil ended up winning the gold.
The next World Cup took place in Germany. Brazil looked like they were going for a two-peat. Instead, France put an end to the dream, in the quarter-finals. But the 2002 disaster was for from over. France locked horns with Italy, in the Final. This was a near perfect game, until Zinedine Zidane headbutted Marco Materazzi, earning him a red card. Zidane looked from the sidelines, as France lost in a penalty shoot-out.
Things weren’t any better for France, in 2010. Mexico and South Africa secured France’s ticket home, with 2-0 and 2-1 wins. Like in 2002, France’s presence was absent.
There was a glimmer of hope, in 2014. As part of Group E, France manhandled Honduras and Switzerland, with 3-0 and 5-2 scores. The 0-0 draw, against Ecuador, was a bit suspicious. Yet, there was promise, in stars Paul Pogba and Karim Benzema. By the quarter-finals, the French collided with a brick wall, known as Germany, the eventual champions. Good effort.
Winning the FIFA Confederations Cup, in 2001 and 2003, were actual red herrings, as France didn’t expect their upcoming World Cup runs would be shameful.
2018 was a complete redesign of previous squads. The new youthful unit bulldozed through the competition. Most notable are the 4-3 and 2-0 wins over Argentina and Uruguay. Messi, DiMaria, Suazrez, and Cavani couldn’t hold a candle to the brilliance of Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann.
France did battle with Crotia, in the Final. Millions witnessed a 4-2 landslide, as France won their 2nd title.
One might say that France has learned from its mistakes, and they should be credible contenders, to win the World Cup again. As of now, Denmark and Tunisia are two of their opponents in Group D. An AFC vs CONMEBOL playoff will determine if Peru or Australia join the group, as France’s first opponent. History has shown us that France underperforms against weaker competition. 2022 shouldn’t be an exception. Their less-than stellar Euro 2020 campaign didn’t turn heads. They were eliminated, in the Round-of-16, via penalty shootout to Switzerland. Their current run, in the UEFA Nations League, should raise plenty of concern. They are defending champions, with no wins. France is becoming a parody of itself.
How France performs in the remainder of the Nations Cup, will provide an accurate preview for the World Cup. What are your expectations for France in Qatar?