France started the World Cup with more questions than answers after being ravaged by injuries.
But they quickly ended the curse of the defending champions to reach the final, thanks to their ruthlessness, mental strength and moments of sheer brilliance.
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Kylian Mbappe scored five goals in his first three matches while Olivier Giroud, who owes his place in the starting lineup to Karim Benzema’s last-minute injury, became France’s all-time leading goal scorer as he launched the campaign with the first goal of their inaugural 4-1 win against Australia.
Following is France’s path to the final:
France 4-1 Australia
France started the tournament on the back of a dismal Nations League campaign and fell behind early on but quickly recovered as Adrien Rabiot and Giroud put them ahead at halftime.
They lost left-back Lucas Hernandez for the rest of the competition to a serious knee injury.
Giroud was at it again in the second half before Mbappe opened his account in Qatar with a career sixth goal in the World Cup to give Les Bleus much-needed momentum.
France 2-1 Denmark
Mbappe tapped in the opener in the 61st minute of a tense encounter, seven minutes before Andreas Christensen headed home the equaliser.
Mbappe, however, bundled the ball over the line with four minutes left from Antoine Griezmann’s cross, sending France into the last 16 with one game to spare.
France 0-1 Tunisia
Coach Didier Deschamps made nine changes for the match as his team were almost guaranteed the top spot in Group D.
The fringe players failed to live up to expectations as Wahbi Khazri scored the only goal before the hour. Substitute Griezmann equalised in stoppage time, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside after a VAR review was initiated after the final whistle.
Last-16: France 3-1 Poland
Giroud opened the scoring to become France’s all-time top scorer with 52 goals – moving one ahead of Thierry Henry.
Les Bleus sealed it when Mbappe netted a couple of last-gasp screamers – thumping the first shot under the bar before firing the second into the far top corner for his fourth and fifth goal of the tournament.
Poland reduced the arrears with a stoppage-time Robert Lewandowski penalty.
Quarterfinal: England 1-2 France
France went ahead thanks to a 25-metre Aurelien Tchouameni strike, but cracked early in the second half with Harry Kane converting a penalty.
Les Bleus appeared to be in the ropes at times, but they soaked up the pressure and made their experience count when Giroud’s header from Griezmann’s pin-point cross restored the advantage.
Kane had a golden chance to cancel it out with a late penalty, only for the striker’s effort to fly over the bar.
Semifinal: France 2-0 Morocco
France abandoned possession early on, knowing too well that Morocco revelled in defending deep and looking to hurt their opponents on the break.
They went ahead on five minutes thanks to Theo Hernandez’s high-hooked volley, forcing their opponents to take the initiative. Morocco played boldly and would have deserved to level before the break.
But France defended with cool heads as Ibrahima Konate proved unbeatable at centre-back despite being named in the starting XI at the last minute following Dayot Upamecano’s illness.
It was all over in the 79th minute, however, when Randal Kolo Muani beat Yassine Bounou from close range after some great Mbappe work in the box, only 44 seconds after coming on as a substitute.
France will play Argentina, who are also looking to win the World Cup for a third time, in Sunday’s final at the Lusail Stadium.