Sports Vive la France: Les Bleus advance to World Cup final

00:45  11 july  2018
00:45  11 july  2018 Source:   msn.com

France gets all the love from Twitter after reaching World Cup final

  France gets all the love from Twitter after reaching World Cup final France gained a lot of admirers on social media on Tuesday as it booked a place in the 2018 World Cup final. Samuel Umtiti's header was all Les Bleus needed to get past Belgium in the semi-finals. They had few problems defending the 1-0 lead, with the likes of Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann contributing to the defensive effort.

France are colloquially known as Les Bleus (The Blues). France won the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2001 and 2003, and reached the 2006 FIFA World Cup final , which it lost 5–3 on penalties to Italy.

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  Vive la France: Les Bleus advance to World Cup final © Provided by thecanadianpress.com

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - France is back in the World Cup final for the first time since Zinedine Zidane's headbutt in 2006.

Twelve years after one of soccer's most infamous moments, Samuel Umtiti used his head to score from a corner kick in the 51st minute and earn France a 1-0 victory over Belgium on Tuesday in the first of the all-European semifinals.

The French danced on the field after the final whistle and shook the hand of Thierry Henry, who helped Les Bleus win the World Cup in 1998 but had been hoping to eliminate his native country as Belgium's assistant coach.

France's fans sang in the stands long past the end of the match, surrounded by yellow-clad security.

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France are into the World Cup final for the third time in the last six tournaments after Samuel Umtiti's second half header crushed Belgium's dream. And his towering header – out-leaping Belgian giant Marouane Fellaini – made him even more priceless to Les Bleus .

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They certainly hope to keep the party going on Sunday in the final in Moscow. France will face either Croatia or England, who play Wednesday at the Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital.

"Vive la France! Vive la Republique!" France forward Antoine Griezmann shouted during the post-match celebrations.

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made a great save in each half, denying the potent Belgian attack of Eden Hazard, Kevin De Bruyne and Romelu Lukaku the chance to advance the country to its first major final. Belgium reached the quarterfinals at the 2014 World Cup and the European Championship in 2016 but has yet to fulfil its lofty expectations.

The world now gets to see France's luxury squad, collectively valued in excess of $1 billion and headlined by teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe, in another major final.

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Also, we look at France 's less-than-impressive win against Belarus that guarantees Les Bleus a spot in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. FRANCE 24 Live – International Breaking News & Top stories - 24/7 stream FRANCE 24 English 482 watching.

French President Emmanuel Macron paid a visit to Les Bleus at the national training centre in Clairefontaine on Ce qui saute aux yeux quand on voit l'@equipedefrance : l'esprit d'équipe et la cohésion du groupe Deschamps promotes new, young talent with France 's World Cup squad.

Two years ago at home, the French surprisingly lost to Portugal 1-0 in the Euro 2016 title match. In 2006, they were beaten in a penalty shootout by Italy in a World Cup final that was overshadowed by Zidane headbutting opposing player Marco Materazzi in the chest in extra time. Zidane was sent off in what was his final match.

In a tournament dominated by goals from set pieces, France took the lead from a corner. Griezmann curled in the ball from the right and Umtiti got in front of tall Belgium midfielder Marouane Fellaini to knock in his header at the near post.

  Vive la France: Les Bleus advance to World Cup final © Provided by thecanadianpress.com

"It's me that scored," Umtiti said, "but we all delivered a big game."

Up in the corporate seats, French President Emmanuel Macron reacted to the goal by shaking the hand of King Philippe of Belgium as FIFA president Gianni Infantino watched on between them.

The goal capped an impressive display by Umtiti, who helped to shut out the most productive attack in the World Cup with 14 goals, and meant three defenders have now scored on France's route to the final. Benjamin Pavard and Raphael Varane scored in previous matches.

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Twelve years later, Les Bleus needed fresher blood, players who ignored fear – but who would benefit from the guidance of those who had been the young, three World Cups ago. Vive la France !

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In search of the equalizer, Belgium repeatedly sent over crosses from both wings but Umtiti and Varane, both centre backs, used their bodies cleverly to hold off Fellaini and Lukaku. Varane, in particular, was outstanding.

France coach Didier Deschamps has faced some criticism for being too pragmatic and functional despite having so many stars in his squad, but the organization of the team was superb and Belgium was largely restricted to only minor chances that were kept out by the flying Lloris.

Deschamps now has the chance to become the third person to win the World Cup as a player and a coach, after Germany great Franz Beckenbauer and Brazil's Mario Zagallo. As France captain, Deschamps won soccer's most prized trophy in 1998.

With Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Neymar no longer in Russia, Eden Hazard and Mbappe have taken over as the stars of the World Cup and there was a buzz every time either got the ball.

Yet while Hazard — Belgium's captain — faded after a strong opening 30 minutes, Mbappe was a constant threat. His first touch was after 10 seconds and, after receiving the ball on the right wing, he sped past Jan Vertonghen and then Mousa Dembele in a thrilling run.

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France 's world cup squad. Goalkeepers: Alphone Areola (Paris St Germain), Hugo Lloris (Tottenham), Steve Mandanda (Marseille). Les Bleus were knocked out at the quarter- final stage with a 1-0 defeat to Germany at Brazil 2014.

Also, we look at France 's less-than-impressive win against Belarus that guarantees Les Bleus a spot in the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Finally , find out why a man in a sharksuit was arrested under Austria's new anti-burqa laws!

At 19, Mbappe wasn't even born when France won the World Cup for the first and only time with a squad that is just as diverse as the one Deschamps is leading 20 years later.

Lloris is the captain and he played a key role against Belgium, diving to his right midway through the first half to claw away Toby Alderweireld's shot and then getting in front of Lukaku to punch away one of substitute Dries Mertens' many crosses.

"Unfortunately for us, the difference is just a dead-ball situation, a set play," Belgium coach Roberto Martinez said. "The game was, as you can imagine, very close, very tight, and it was going to be decided (on) maybe the one that it could find that final touch in the box."

Instead of a trip to Moscow, Belgium will return to St. Petersburg for the third-place match.

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IN THE STANDS

Along with the French and Gabonese presidents and the king and queen of Belgium, there was rock 'n' roll royalty watching the game.

Mick Jagger was one of the many famous faces in the stands at St. Petersburg Stadium. The Rolling Stones frontman is a big soccer fan, having attended the World Cup final in Brazil in 2014 as well as many England games.

Former Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson, who is the partner of France defender Adil Rami, also was present.

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More AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

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Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80

Familiar faces meet as France, Uruguay do battle 5 years after youth clash .
Five years after France and Uruguay met in the 2013 Under-20 World Cup final in Turkey, the two sides are set to clash in Russia with a semi-final spot on the line. France topped Uruguay 4-1 on penalties, with current Paris Saint-Germain and Les Bleus No. 2 shot-stopper Alphonse Areola the hero with a pair of spot-kick saves after a goalless affair. With the victory, France became the first nation to win all five of FIFA's 11-a-side men'sFrance topped Uruguay 4-1 on penalties, with current Paris Saint-Germain and Les Bleus No. 2 shot-stopper Alphonse Areola the hero with a pair of spot-kick saves after a goalless affair. With the victory, France became the first nation to win all five of FIFA's 11-a-side men's titles.

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