In 1998, on home soil, Didier Deschamps led France to their first ever and only World Cup triumph till date.
Twenty years later, the “the luck rider” is guiding a much younger and talented team to what could be another glory in Russia.
Yes, France would be playing in the semifinals of the World Cup for the first time since they won it. It’s not anything short of expectations, but Deschamps wasn’t trusted as much as that too.
Under the much maligned coach, France have played all manner of football en route to the current stage in Russia. They’ve been boring, patchy, promising and enterprising at the same time.
Those ways, they’ve ground results.
Even though they finished top of Group C with seven points, their display in the three group games weren’t convincing. They needed technology against Australia, scrapped it against Peru and produced an uninspiring goalless draw against Denmark – the only one in this year’s tournament so far.
That looked like the Deschamps way again, but at the same time, it was like their best is yet to come. How? They simply stepped up the game in the next round.
France beat a pitiful Argentina 4-3 in the round-16, but only just. It was a game which announced the arrival of Kylian Mbappe on the biggest stage. In another way round, a testament to how talent ladden the Les Blues were.
Technically, still, something was still missing against Argentina even as Uruguay set up another tough test for them.
Ironically against Uruguay, Mbappe went missing and Griezmann played cameo until Muslera made a howler of his shot which gave France their second goal of the game.
If there was anything to pick from that quarterfinal tie, it has to be the solid defensive play of Samuel Umtiti and Raphael Varane.
Although the South Americans missed Ediso Cavani, his probable impact is a matter of if.
For this tournament, the objective set by the President of the French Federation, Noel Le Graet, is to reach the semi-finals. Now they’ve achieved that, but does that mean a defeat at this stage won’t be disappointing?
If only they knew the Nigerian rapper called Phyno, his words on becoming the man of the year; “aim higher, never settle for less” would ring in their heads.