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Can France grab a second World Cup trophy against Croatia?

France has motored through the World Cup, showing flashes of brilliance and long stretches of cautious stonewalling, a strategy that has some frustrated with the team that seems to keep so much of its potential hidden below the surface. With France heading to its third World Cup final in 20 years, many are wondering whether they will finally let rip against dark horse Croatia.
Can France grab a second World Cup trophy against Croatia? France has motored through the World Cup, showing flashes of brilliance and long stretches of cautious stonewalling, a strategy that has some frustrated with the team that seems to keep so much of its potential hidden below the surface. With France heading to its third World Cup final in 20 years, many are wondering whether they will finally let rip against dark horse Croatia. AFP archives

France has motored through the World Cup, showing flashes of brilliance and long stretches of cautious stonewalling, a strategy that has some frustrated with the team that seems to keep so much of its potential hidden below the surface. With France heading to its third World Cup final in 20 years, many are wondering whether they will finally let rip against dark horse Croatia.

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France – Australia (2-1): A rocky debut for les Bleus
France – Australia (2-1): A rocky debut for les Bleus The World Cup started off badly for les Bleus. The Australians were a tough team to break down. And despite taking the lead through a Griezmann penalty, the Aussies were right back in it four minutes later though a penalty by Socceroos captain Mile Jedinak. Eventually, France went ahead thanks to an own goal by Aziz Behich. Luis Acosta, AFP

France – Peru (1-0): Fighting spirit
France – Peru (1-0): Fighting spirit In the second match of the competition, les Bleus came in ready to up their game, but the Peruvians showed the French that South American grit is no myth. The physical match featured several spectacular aerial duels. Midfielder Blaise Matuidi’s out-jumping proved indispensable, and France’s iron-clad defense kept Peru at a distance. Jewel Samad, AFP

France - Denmark (0-0): A soporific evening
France - Denmark (0-0): A soporific evening With two wins under their belts, the French had guaranteed their spot in the final 16. Coach Didier Deschamps took the opportunity to field several reserve players. Denmark, also guaranteed a spot in the next round, did nothing to liven up the match either. The dull game left many worried about the French team’s potential as it continued to resemble more a collection of talented individuals than a cohesive team. Franck Fife, AFP

France-Argentina (4-3): Mbappé lets rip
France-Argentina (4-3): Mbappé lets rip Les Bleus finally caught the World Cup spirit. A rocket of a goal came out of nowhere from defender Benjamin Pavard and young star Kylian Mbappé scored a double — the youngest player to do so since Pelé. The terrifying pace of France’s youthful team was too much for Argentina’s slow defenders, so it was adios to Messi and Co. Franck Fife, AFP

France-Uruguay (2-0): A tale of two keepers
France-Uruguay (2-0): A tale of two keepers This was a contrasting day for the two goalkeepers. Uruguay veteran goalkeeper Fernando Muslera fumbled a long range shot from France’s Griezmann, helping France double their lead to 2-0. Uruguay had a few good efforts, but French goalie and captain Hugo Lloris was on fire, stretching superbly to stop a header from Martin Caceres Franck Fife, AFP

France – Belgium (1-0): Neighbours face off
France – Belgium (1-0): Neighbours face off France faced its northern neighbour in the semi-final. Belgium dominated at the start, but les Bleus blunted the attacks with the imperturbable defence that has made France such a frustrating opponent. France’s Samuel Umtiti scored the decisive goal off a corner from Griezmann early in the second half, and the team drew back to play a cool and controlled game for the rest of the match. So far the team’s serenity has been a strength, but will they need more to counter Croatia’s fighting spirit? Gabriel Bouys, AFP

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