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France hopes ‘lucky’ coach can bring World Cup win

French coach Didier Deschamps hope to lead France to World Cup glory on Sunday
French coach Didier Deschamps hope to lead France to World Cup glory on Sunday REUTERS/Fred Lancelot

Deschamps can become just the third man in history to lift the trophy as player and coach, if he leads his country to World Cup glory against Croatia on Sunday.

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Didier Deschamps has a reputation in France for being lucky. Often depicted in cartoons in the French press with an enormous blue cat, an animal associated with luck, the former midfielder also captained his country to glory when France last won the tournament in 1998. Speaking ahead of Sunday's final though, Deschamps was taking a philosophical approach. "I am probably often in the right place at the right time, I can't complain. There are bound to be others who are better than me, and some who are worse as well."

Indeed, in this year's World Cup, France were handed a group-stage draw that many saw as ‘lucky’, when drawn against modest opponents in Denmark, Australia and Peru. Fortune also shone on Les Bleus in the quarter-finals, when they beat a Uruguay side deprived of Edinson Cavani because of injury. "It is something that few coaches have. He has won with France, he was a great player, a captain, a leader," said midfielder Paul Pogba of the luck factor.

Never noted for glamour during in his own playing days, former French footballer Eric Cantona famously described him as a "water carrier". Deschapms style of play during his helm as French coach has also sometimes brought criticism, given the wealth of attacking talent at his disposal, led by Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe.

If France do claim their second tournament, it seems playing style is not an issue for its current stars. French forward Antoine Griezmann said winning the World Cup against Croatia on Sunday was more important than how his team do it. "I don't care. I want the star (on my shirt for World Cup winners). If I get that star, I don't care about how we play," the 27-year-old Atletico Madrid forward told a press conference on Friday.

Deschamps has taken France to their second straight major tournament final, giving them the opportunity to make up for their bitter defeat at the hands of Portugal at the Euro 2016 tournament hosted. Deschamps' team are favourites to win Sunday's showpiece in Moscow and become world champions for the second time, 20 years after their first triumph in 1998. The French coach is just one win away from following in the footsteps of Brazil's Mario Zagallo and Germany's Franz Beckenbauer, who also won the World Cup as player and coach.

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