Jules Rimmet inspired the FIFA World Cup, and native France have had some great teams in that tournament. They have won the trophy once, and are usually among the best European sides in the cup. With stars such as Platini, Zidane and Henry the French national team have had some great FIFA World Cup games.
1998 World Cup Final
The '98 cup was played in France, and it was here that the France's team would raise the trophy for the first time. At the Stade De France they took on the reigning world champions Brazil in the final. It was their first World Cup final, and the French team outclassed the Brazilians who were a little short of top form in the game.
Zidane was the man of the match, and scored twice from corner kicks in the first half to put the French two goals up. Brazil did not get back into the game in the second, and France sealed their victory with a third goal in the final minutes. A jubilant Stade De France roared as their team lifted the trophy, and it was party time in Paris!
1998 World Cup Semifinal
Before reaching the FIFA World Cup final, the French had to defeat Croatia in the semi-finals. They had never won a World Cup semifinal before, but nor had Croatia. However, Croatia had a very good side, spearheaded by Suker, which had trounced the Germans 3 - 0 in the quarter-finals. This semifinal was a closer game than the final.
It was Suker who fired Croatia in front late in the first half. The French were trailing at the interval, but Thuram scored soon after the break to level the scores. That was Thuram's first international goal for the national team, and he doubled his total with a goal in the last 20 minutes that made the score 2 - 1. Croatia could not find an equalizer before the final whistle, so France won their first World Cup semifinal.
2006 World Cup Quarter-final
France did not make a flying start in the 2006 tournament. They had drawn their first two games, but still made it through to the second round. Victory against Spain set up a quarter-final clash with the then world champions Brazil. Many expected Brazil to emerge triumphant in this game, but a Zidane inspired France could not be defeated in this quarter-final encounter.
Whilst the game was not exactly a classic, it was a great victory for France. During the second half Zidane swept in a free-kick to Henry who struck a sweet volley to put France in front. France retained the lead up to the final whistle, and thus won a great victory. It was probably their best game in that tournament.
1958 FIFA World Cup Third-Place Playoff
In 1958, France was defeated in the semifinals. They were out of the cup with a final third-place playoff game against the Germans. This was a fantastic game that included nine goals. During the match Fontaine put France a goal up, before Germany equalized minutes later. From then on the flood gates opened for France with a further three goals putting them 4 - 1 up just after halftime.
Whilst the Germans pulled a couple of goals back, France also scored two more to wrap up a 6 - 3 victory. Fontaine was in fantastic form, scoring a total of four goals in this match. This ensured a new scoring record in the finals that remains today. As France won the game, they finished third in that cup, which was then their best finish in the finals.
1982 FIFA World Cup Second Round
One of the best French sides took on one of Northern Ireland's strongest teams in the second round of the 1982 cup. Northern Ireland had defeated the hosts Spain in the first group, and 1982 was one of their best tournaments. In the second group they took on France for a place in the semifinal.
From the outset France dominated the match. After 33 minutes Girese was left unmarked within Northern Ireland's box, and scored the opening goal from close range. Soon after the break they extended their lead, and when Rocheateau drilled home a third for France this game was all but won. Even though NI pulled a goal back within the last 15 minutes France were cruising to victory, and wrapped up the game with a fourth. A header into the back of Northern Ireland's net from just a few yards out was the final goal of the game, and the victory ensured that France topped the group.
These were among France's great victories in FIFA's cup. France swept aside Brazil, Germany, Croatia and Northern Ireland with some great performances. Few French fans will doubt that the Brazil vs France was their best game played in the FIFA World Cup.