World Cup history is beckoning to France, star player Kylian Mbappe and coach Didier Deschamps.
Football legends are waiting to write for the team when France take to the pitch on Sunday for a tournament final against Argentina and Lionel Messi.
Les Bleus may be the first back-to-back title winner in 60 years since Brazil did it in 1958 and 1962.
Mbappe, 23, will become the youngest two-time World Cup winner since Pele, 21.
Deschamps will become the first man to manage two world champions since Vittorio Pozzo in Italy in 1934 and 1938.
“As for me, I’m not the most important person. It’s the French team,” said Deschamps, who deserves his place in the squad. world cup history.
When France won the World Cup for the first time in 1998, he lifted the trophy as captain in Paris. In 2018, he won the championship as a coach, and now he is on the verge of third place.
“Obviously, I’m proud. I know, everyone knows, we have a chance to win another title,” Deschamps said after Thursday’s semi-final win over Morocco.
France are in their fourth final in seven matches – including losing to Italy on penalties in the 2006 final after Zinedine Zidane was sent off. This is a dynastic era not seen since Brazil’s 20-year peak until 1970.
The team, typified by Pele’s talents, won all three finals they had reached starting in 1958 and also played in the decisive final game of the 1950 tournament, which they lost to Uruguay in Rio de Janeiro.
The Morocco coach was quick to name France and Mbappe after they ended his side’s historic run as the first African team to reach the semi-finals.
“For the last 20 years, you could say that France has been the top football country in the world,” said Walid Regragui, who was born in France and played most of his career there ball.
“If he wins the World Cup again,” Regga said of Mbappe, “he will emulate Pele.”
Both players made stunning World Cup debuts as teenagers and really came back to life in the knockout rounds.
In 1958, the 17-year-old Pele scored all six of his goals in Sweden after the group stage, including a semi-final hat-trick to help knock out France as he wore his iconic number 10 jersey.
Mbappe declared his World Cup imminent at the age of 19, scoring twice against Argentina and Lionel Messi in a 4-3 round of 16 tie. Any replay of that match in Russia would be a fantastic final.
With five goals so far in Qatar, Mbappe is tied with Messi as the World Cup’s top scorer. The Frenchman scored four goals in 2018.
It wasn’t until his fourth World Cup in 1970 that Pele scored his ninth career goal, despite playing fewer games than Mbappe. The France No. 10 will be a key player in Sunday’s second straight final, two days before he turns 24.
What makes France and Didier Deschamps all the more impressive this time around is that they have adapted to a litany of injuries with new talent that never even made it to last year’s World Cup qualifiers.
Midfielders Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante started the 2018 final against Croatia but were sidelined through injury before the match, with left-back Lucas Hernandez only lasting nine minutes in Qatar He was reimbursed for the season due to a knee injury.
Starting centre-back Presnell Kimpembe and strikers Karim Benzema and Christopher Nkunku are sidelined through injury after a 26-man squad was selected in November.
In order to replace them, Deschamps has promoted a group of players in their early 20s who have performed well and transitioned smoothly into the next generation.
Centre-back Ibrahima Konaté was brilliant against Morocco and striker Randal Kolo Muani scored with his first touch off the bench in a 2-0 win.
“Of course, they don’t have much international experience,” Deschamps said of his unlikely midfield pairing of Aurélien Tchouaméni and Youssouf Fofana. “But they might have it all.”
The youngsters have experienced team-mates to help guide them, including Antoine Griezmann, a goal-scoring winger recast as an all-around midfielder. Griezmann, 31, should be a lock-in option for any team at this World Cup.
“They need to be surrounded by players with more experience. It’s just a matter of free play,” said the coach, making his French project sound easy.
Deschamps’ decade in charge in France looks certain to continue as he waits for another contract extension and another trophy on Sunday.