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French national football team/World Cups

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France
République française

World Cup record scorer: Just Fontaine (13)
World Cup record player: Fabien Barthez and Thierry Henry (17)
Rank: 7
Aligner: 1938 and 1998
Balance
66 World Cup matches
34 wins
13[1] Draws
19 Defeats
120:77 Goals
Statistics
First World Cup match
FranceFrankreich France 4-1 Mexico Mexico 1918Mexiko
Montevideo (URY); 13 July 1930
Highest World Cup wins
FranceFrankreich France 7-3 Paraguay Paraguay 1954Paraguay
Norrköping (SWE); 8 June 1958
FranceFrankreich France 4-0 Northern Ireland Northern IrelandNordirland
Norrköping(SWE); 19 June 1958
Highest World Cup defeat
FranceFrankreich France 2:5 Brazil Brazil 1889Brasilien
Solna (SWE); 24 June 1958
Successes

World Cup
Final round participations 15(First: 1930)
Best results World Champion
1998 and 2018
Best rankings in FIFA World Cup host countries
Französische-WM-Platzierungen.PNG
(as of July 15, 2018)

The article includes a detailed account of the French national football team at World Cups.

Overview

France was the only European team to register for all the World Cups, but only reached the World Cup finals 15 times and failed to qualify six times so far. Twice France became world champions – as the last host so far and in the last staging so far.

Year Host country Participation until.. Last opponents Result[2] Trainer Remarks and special features
1930 Uruguay Preliminary round Mexico, Chile, Argentina 7. Raoul Caudron
1934 Italy Round of 16 Austria 9. EnglandEngland Sid Kimpton
1938 France Quarterfinals Italy 6. Maurice Cottenet
1950 Brazil unqualified Failed to qualify against Yugoslavia. The subsequent invitation after the withdrawal of other teams was not accepted.
1954 Switzerland Preliminary round Yugoslavia, Mexico 11. Pierre Pibarot
1958 Sweden Match for 3rd place Germany 3. Albert Batteux Just Fontaine top scorer with 13 goals
1962 Chile unqualified Failed to qualify against Bulgaria
1966 England Preliminary round Mexico, Uruguay, England 13. Henri Guérin
1970 Mexico unqualified Failed to qualify against Sweden
1974 Germany unqualified Failed to qualify against the Soviet Union
1978 Argentina Preliminary round Italy, Argentina, Hungary 12. Michel Hidalgo
1982 Spain Match for 3rd place Poland 4. Michel Hidalgo Failed to beat Germany in the semi-finals in the first penalty shootout in World Cup history (Night of Seville)
1986 Mexico Match for 3rd place Belgium 3. Henri Michel Failed again in the semi-finals against Germany
1990 Italy unqualified Failed in qualifying to Yugoslavia and Scotland
1994 USA unqualified Failed in qualifying to Sweden and Bulgaria
1998 France Finale Brazil World Champion Aimé Jacquet 1. World Cup title
2002 South Korea/Japan Preliminary round Senegal, Uruguay, Denmark 28. Roger Lemerre First defending champion eliminated without a goal
2006 Germany Finale Italy 2. Raymond Domenech Defeat on penalties
2010 South Africa Preliminary round Uruguay, Mexico, South Africa 29. Raymond Domenech
2014 Brazil Quarterfinals Germany 7. Didier Deschamps
2018 Russia Finale Croatia World Champion Didier Deschamps In the qualifiers, the team beat Sweden, the Netherlands, Bulgaria, Belarus and Luxembourg.
2022 Qatar In the qualification the opponents are Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia&Herzegovina and Kazakhstan.

Statistics (data incl. 2018: 21 world championships; percentages are rounded)

Position of the French team in the perpetual World Cup table

  • Not qualified: 6× (29 %; 1950, 1962, 1970, 1974, 1990, 1994)
  • Sporting qualification (incl. participation as defending champion): 12× (57 % or in 67 % of the attempts)
  • Participated without qualification (incl. automatic qualification as host): 3× (14 %; 1930, 1938, 1998)
    • Preliminary round: 6× (29%; 1930, 1954, 1966, 1978, 2002 and 2010)
    • Round of 16 or first round: 1× (5 %; 1934)
    • Quarterfinals: 2× (10%; 1938 and 2014)
    • Match for 3rd place: 3× (14 %, 1958, 1982 and 1986)
      • Third: 2× (10 %; 1958 and 1986)
      • Fourth: 1× (5 %; 1982)
    • Finals: 3× (14%; 1998, 2006 and 2018)
      • World Champions: 2× (10%; 1998 and 2018)
Most frequent last opponents: Germany and Italy (2× each, winning only once)

World Cup Tournaments

World Championship 1930

Lucien Laurent (left), scorer of the first World Cup goal, and Marcel Langiller

Scene from the match against Argentina

France was one of only four European teams, along with Belgium and Romania, to make the three-week voyage on the Conte Verde to take part in the inaugural World Cup, and the French team got to play the first World Cup match. In this one, Lucien Laurent scored the first World Cup goal after 19 minutes against Mexico. In the 26th minute, defender Augustin Chantrel had to replace the injured goalkeeper Alex Thépot in goal and kept it clean until the 70th minute. Then the Mexicans scored to make it 1:3. The first two-time goal scorer and thus the World Cup record scorer for four days was André Maschinot, who scored to make it 3:0 and 4:1. The second match saw a narrow 1-0 defeat to South American champions and eventual runners-up Argentina, followed by another 1-0 loss to Chile, leaving France third in the group. On their way home, they played their first international match against Brazil in Rio de Janeiro on 1 August, losing 3-2.

World Championship 1934

For the first World Cup in Europe, France had to qualify in a group with Germany and Luxembourg, and the top two teams were to qualify for Italy. Actually, all three teams were to play one match each against the other two teams, with each team having a home and away match. As Luxembourg did not think they had a chance to qualify, both matches against Luxembourg were played in Luxembourg, so Luxembourg at least had a financial success despite the defeats. After Luxembourg lost both matches, the match between Germany and France, between whom there were political tensions, was then unnecessary and was not played due to irrelevance.[3]

At the World Cup in Italy, France faced Austria and took the lead after 18 minutes. Austria equalised 16 minutes later and, with neither side able to score in normal time, they went into the first extra-time in World Cup history. The Austrians scored twice before Georges Verriest scored a penalty three minutes from time to make it 3-2.

World Championship 1938

In 1938, France hosted their third World Cup after beating rivals Argentina and Germany 19-4-0, thus automatically qualifying. They defeated neighbours Belgium 3-1 in the last 16 and reached the quarter-finals against defending champions Italy. Here there was a 1:3, and for the first time the host could not use the home advantage and not win the World Cup.

World Championship 1950

For the first World Cup in Brazil, France had to qualify against Yugoslavia, who had first eliminated Israel. As the first and second legs ended 1-1, there was a deciding match in Florence, which was lost 3-2 after extra time. After several qualified teams declined to take part, France was invited back but declined on the grounds that it would have had to play group matches at venues 3,000 kilometres apart.

World Championship 1954

For the World Cup in neighbouring Switzerland, France had to qualify against Ireland and Luxembourg, which they did impressively with four wins. In Switzerland, France and Brazil were seeded in their group and did not have to play each other. However, France lost their opening match against unseeded Yugoslavia 0:1 and since Yugoslavia managed a 1:1 against Brazil, France’s 3:2 against Mexico was worthless.

World Championship 1958

For the World Cup in Sweden, France had to qualify against Belgium and Iceland under Albert Batteux, who had been national coach since 1955. The French scored 19 goals in their first three matches, only the last game in Belgium ended goalless, which meant France qualified. If they had lost, there would have been a deciding match despite a better goal difference. After qualifying successfully, France lost 4-0 to England in London and then drew three times. In addition, goal-scorer René Bliard was injured so badly in test matches that he was ruled out for the World Cup. The French press therefore had little hope in the team and feared an early exit like four years earlier. In Sweden, the French team scored a total of 23 goals – only Hungary (27) and Germany (25) scored more at a World Cup in 1954. Just Fontaine, who came on as a replacement for Bliard and finished top scorer with 13 goals, a record for a single World Cup tournament that still stands today, beating Sándor Kocsis’s previous best by two goals and remaining the World Cup record scorer for 16 years before Gerd Müller set a new record with a total of 14 goals that lasted twice as long. Despite the number of goals, it was only enough for third place, as Brazil scored even more in the semi-finals. Pele scored a flawless hat-trick in a 2-5 second-half win. At least Fontaine scored the first goal against the eventual world champions, who had not allowed a goal in their previous four matches. However, France’s third-place finish, achieved by a 6-3 defeat of defending champions Germany, in which Fontaine scored four goals alone, was their best until 1998, after which they had to wait 8 years to return to a World Cup. In addition, this remained the only must-win match against Germany to date and remained the highest defeat for a defending champion – albeit one who had already been dethroned – until 2014.

World Championship 1962

For the third World Cup in South America France had to qualify against Bulgaria and Finland. France and Bulgaria won their matches against Finland as well as the home matches against each other, so a deciding match was necessary. The better goal difference for France counted for nothing. The deciding match in Milan was won by the Bulgarians, who thus qualified for the World Cup for the first time. National coach Albert Batteux remained in charge, but his tenure ended after a 2-1 defeat in a friendly against Italy in May 1962.

World Championship 1966

For the World Cup in England France qualified under Henri Guérin, who had taken over as national coach in 1962, once again against Yugoslavia and Luxembourg and for the first time Norway. France and Yugoslavia won their home games against each other 1-0, but while Yugoslavia lost in Norway and only managed a 1-1 draw at home against the Norwegians, France won all their games against the other two teams and thus reached the World Cup finals. Here France were drawn in the group with hosts England, North and Central American champions Mexico and former world champions Uruguay, and only scored a point in their match against the Mexicans. The World Cup exit marked the end of Guérin’s tenure.

World Championship 1970

France went into the qualifiers for the first World Cup in Central America under Louis Dugauguez, with France again facing Norway as well as their Scandinavian neighbours Sweden. France blew qualification in their first home game, losing 1-0 to Norway, after which Dugauguez was replaced by Georges Boulogne. Although the return match in Oslo was won, but after also losing in Stockholm, qualification was no longer possible as Sweden had won both matches against Norway. The final 3-0 win over Sweden did nothing to change that.

World Cup 1974

In qualifying for the first World Cup in neighbouring Germany, France under Georges Boulogne had to face the Soviet Union and Ireland. They won their first match against the Soviet Union in Paris, but then lost in Ireland and drew 1-1 at home to Ireland, while the Soviet Union won all their remaining matches, including the final decisive match against France 2-0. The Soviet Union then had to play Chile in the intercontinental relegation, but refused to play in the Santiago de Chile stadium because supporters of the previous civilian government were interned there after the 1973 military coup, and were therefore disqualified. The qualifying exit ended Georges Boulogne’s tenure, and he was succeeded by Ștefan Kovács, whose tenure ended after he failed to qualify for the 1976 European Championship.

World Championship 1978

12 years after their last participation, France qualified again under Michel Hidalgo, with Ireland as their opponents as four years earlier and Bulgaria as in 1962, against whom they won the last decisive match. At the World Cup in Argentina, France played in a group with hosts Argentina, Hungary and former world champions Italy. Since only against Hungary was won, but the other two games were lost with 1:2, the World Cup was already after the preliminary round for the French finished.

World Championship 1982

For their fourth World Cup in a neighbouring country, France qualified along with Belgium against again Ireland, the Netherlands and Cyprus, with the better goal difference over Ireland being decisive. In Spain, they lost their opening match 3-1 to England, but then won against World Cup newcomers and Asian champions Kuwait and Czechoslovakia to reach the second round of finals as group runners-up. This was played in groups of three only at this World Cup and France won both matches against Austria and Northern Ireland. This meant that France were favourites in the semi-final against European champions Germany, the so-called “Night of Seville”, but suffered a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Pierre Littbarski as early as the 17th minute. Michel Platini equalised nine minutes later with a penalty, but neither side scored again and the game went into extra time. In extra time, France quickly took a 3-1 lead, but then equalised to set up the first penalty shoot-out in World Cup history. In this shootout the French were again in the lead when Uli Stielike failed to hit Jean-Luc Ettori. Toni Schumacher saved two of the French penalties, so the French had to play in the small final, just like in 1958.[4] Without several regular players, they lost 3-2 to Poland.

World Championship 1986

For the second World Cup in Mexico the newly crowned European champion France qualified under the new national coach Henri Michel together with Bulgaria (both 11:5 points) against the GDR, Yugoslavia and Luxembourg. In Mexico the French had to face World Cup newcomer Canada (1:0), the Soviet Union (1:1) and Hungary (3:0) and tied with the Soviet Union for second place in the group to reach the round of sixteen, which will take place again from this World Cup on. Here the French met defending champions Italy and reached the quarter-finals against Brazil with a 2-0 win. In one of the best World Cup matches of all time, the score was 1-1 after 120 minutes and the penalty shootout had to decide. Unlike four years earlier against Germany, the French had the better shooters and again reached the semi-finals, where they again faced Germany. As four years before, France were favourites again, as on the one hand France had impressively won the European Championship two years before, while the German team had already been eliminated in the preliminary round, and on the other hand the Germans had struggled through the World Cup until then. But after only nine minutes Andreas Brehme put the German team in the lead and they managed to defend this advantage against a storming French attack. Rudi Völler then scored the second goal in the 90th minute after a counterattack. Unlike four years before, France won the match for third place against Belgium and said goodbye to the World Cup stage for 12 years.

World Championship 1990

The second World Cup in the neighbouring country Italy missed France under national coach Michel Platini in the qualification again against Yugoslavia and also Scotland. Not only the defeats in Yugoslavia and Scotland were decisive, but also the fact that France only drew in Cyprus and Norway as well as at home against Yugoslavia. Platini remained in office, however, and led France to the 1992 European Championship, where he was eliminated in the preliminary round, thus ending his tenure.

World Championship 1994

Qualifying for the World Cup in the United States did not go any better under new coach Gérard Houllier. This time the French were beaten by Sweden and Bulgaria, with a 3-2 home defeat to Israel the deciding factor and a 2-1 home defeat to Bulgaria the deciding factor. Only against Finland and Austria both games were won. After failing to qualify, coach Houllier resigned and was succeeded by Aimé Jacquet, who ushered in a new era.

World Championship 1998

Starting line-up in the final

France did not have to qualify for the second World Cup in its own country, merely beating Morocco and Switzerland in the bidding process. Unlike 60 years earlier, France made the most of the home advantage and became world champions for the first time under Aimé Jacquet. In the preliminary round, World Cup newcomers South Africa and Asian champions Saudi Arabia were defeated in commanding fashion, 3-0 and 4-0 respectively, and Denmark were narrowly beaten 2-1, thus ending the preliminary round with three victories for the first time. In the round of 16 against Paraguay, the first golden goal in the history of the World Cup brought victory and in the quarter-finals France benefited from Italy’s weakness in the penalty shoot-out. Normal time was then enough against Croatia in the semi-finals and in the final against defending champions and South American champions Brazil, the 3-0 win was one of the two highest victories against a defending champion that was only surpassed in 2014. Two years later, France also became the first world champions to win the European Championship, something only Germany had previously achieved in reverse order. Jacquet moved to the post of technical director after the World Cup success. His successor was Roger Lemerre, who won the European Championship with the team two years later.

World Championship 2002

The last time the defending champions did not have to qualify for the finals, and after winning the 2000 European Championship and the 2001 FIFA Confederations Cup, France were considered one of the favourites for the first World Cup in Asia. But the opening match against World Cup newcomers Senegal was already lost 1-0. After a goalless draw against Uruguay, however, France still had a chance to reach the round of 16. However, they lost 2-0 to Denmark, making France the only defending champions to have been eliminated without a goal. The elimination also marked the end of Roger Lemerre’s tenure. He was succeeded by Jacques Santini, who was unable to match the success of his predecessors and announced his departure before the 2004 European Championship, which came after the team’s quarter-final exit.

World Championship 2006

Having failed to qualify twice in a row, and having failed to qualify twice before that, France qualified confidently for their second World Cup in neighbouring Germany under Raymond Domenech. Admittedly, they started differently than expected with a 0-0 draw against Israel, and a 2-0 win in the Faroe Islands was followed by goalless home games against Ireland and Switzerland, with an interim 2-0 win in Cyprus. However, with their pursuers also dropping points and France not losing a game, this time they managed to qualify.

In the preliminary round of the World Cup in Germany, France faced qualifying opponents Switzerland (0-0), South Korea (1-1) and World Cup newcomers Togo, against whom they secured second place behind Switzerland with a 2-0 win. Spain, who had won their group comfortably and also took an early lead against France through a penalty, were their opponents in the last 16. Franck Ribéry levelled the score in the 41st minute, and when both sides were already expecting extra time, Thierry Henry scored a free-kick to make it 2-1 to France. In injury time, Zinedine Zidane made it 3-1, and the quarter-finals were set to be contested by defending South American champions Brazil, who had been equally unconvincing up to that point. The decisive factor was a stroke of genius from Zinédine Zidane, who had failed to match his 1998 form in previous matches, but now took control of the game, outplayed the Brazilians in tight spaces and sent a free-kick to Thierry Henry in the five-yard area, who scored the 1-0 winner. Brazil then pressed vehemently but unsuccessfully for an equaliser, and France were thus through to the semi-finals against Portugal, which they won 1-0. Italy were the opponents in the final. The two had already faced each other six years earlier in the European Championship final, when France won in extra time thanks to a golden goal. After just seven minutes, Zidane put France ahead with a penalty that he casually lifted under the crossbar. But 12 minutes later, Marco Materazzi equalized. That’s how it stayed in normal time and no more goals were scored in extra time. In extra time, however, Zidane was provoked into a headbutt by Materazzi for which he was shown the red card and thus missed the penalty shootout. Italy, who had previously lost three penalty shoot-outs at World Cups, were able to win a World Cup penalty shoot-out for the first time, leaving France as runners-up.

World Cup 2010

In qualifying for the first World Cup in Africa, France had to go the round-robin route via the relegation matches of the group runners-up. Before that, France had been beaten by Serbia and could only get past Austria, Lithuania, Romania and the Faroe Islands. The two draws against Romania were also decisive for the necessary detour. In the playoffs Ireland was the opponent. France first won 1-0 in Ireland, but in the return match in France, Ireland also scored 1-0 and forced extra time. In this, Gallas was able to equalize 1-1 after Henry’s double handball, and France qualified.[5] A request by Ireland to be admitted to the World Cup as the 33rd team was rejected.

The World Cup in South Africa then turned out to be scandalous for France. In what should have been an easy preliminary group with hosts South Africa, North and Central American champions Mexico and Uruguay, who qualified last, France only finished last. Off the pitch, the team also tended to make a name for itself with training boycotts. (See Knysna fiasco). The end of the tournament also marked the end of Raymond Domenech’s tenure, who was succeeded by Laurent Blanc, who was no longer in charge at the next World Cup.

World Championship 2014

Didier Deschamps, the captain of the 1998 World Cup-winning team, took over as national coach after France’s elimination in the quarter-finals of the 2012 European Championship. For the qualifiers for the second World Cup in Brazil, France were drawn in a group with world and European champions Spain as well as Finland, Georgia and Belarus. The French managed a 1-1 draw in Spain, but lost their home game. With Spain holding their own against the other three teams, France once again had to go through the play-offs of the group runners-up. This time they faced Ukraine and lost 2-0 in Kiev. The return leg, however, was won 3-0, making France the first team to qualify from the group runners-up play-offs after losing by two goals.

In the group stage of the finals, France first met Honduras (3-0), then Switzerland (5-2), as in 2006, and finally Ecuador (0-0), and reached the round of 16 as the confident group winners. The performance and attacking style of play regained much of the reputation lost in 2010 and France were talked about as possible title contenders, especially after the game against Switzerland. In the round of 16, African champions Nigeria were the opponents and in a game that was open for a long time, Paul Pogba only managed to score the 1:0 for France in the 79th minute. In injury time, Nigeria captain and record signing Joseph Yobo scored an own goal to make it 0-2. The quarter-finals then brought together France and Germany, who had both previously knocked the last African representatives out of the tournament. Unlike the previous World Cup matches between the two, there was no clear favourite. Mats Hummels gave the Germans a 1-0 lead in the 13th minute and it was defended until the end. Paul Pogba was named the best young player of the World Cup tournament at the end.

World Cup 2018

Starting line-up in the final

In qualifying, which began in September 2016, the French faced World Cup third-placed Netherlands, Sweden, Bulgaria, Belarus and Luxembourg. Les Bleus only conceded a point in the first of their first five games, a goalless draw in Belarus, then won four and were in first place after half the matches. They started the second half of qualifying with a 2-1 defeat in Sweden, but then redeemed themselves with a 4-0 home win over the Netherlands, while Sweden lost in Bulgaria. This was followed by a 0-0 draw against Luxembourg, which made the battle for first place exciting again. France then won for the first time in Bulgaria, who had previously won their home qualifying matches. But as Sweden won 8:0 against Luxembourg, France had only one point more on their account than the Scandinavians before the last matchday. Then, on the final matchday, a 2-1 win over Belarus was enough for the French, so they did not depend on the result of the parallel match between the Netherlands and Sweden. Although the two sides had ended up scoring more goals than the French, they had also conceded more and lost more games, meaning France qualified for the World Cup as group winners and Sweden will have to hope for the play-offs as group runners-up.

At the finals, France started with a 2-1 win over Asian champions Australia, with the winning goal coming in the 81st minute from an own goal by Aziz Behich, who deflected a Paul Pogba shot into his own net unstoppable for his goalkeeper. Against Peru, Kylian Mbappé gave his side the lead in the 34th minute with his first World Cup goal, which also made him the youngest scorer of the tournament, and they managed it until the end. In the final group match against Denmark, coach Deschamps used several reserves and, as the Danes were also happy with a draw, the only goalless match of the tournament was played. As group winners, France met runners-up Argentina in the last 16 and prevailed 4-3, with the lead changing hands twice. In the quarter-finals, the French again faced a South American side, this time Uruguay, who had knocked out European champions Portugal in the last 16. The Uruguayans were without their triple scorer Edinson Cavani due to injury and were unable to break down the French defence, allowing France to win the game with goals from Raphaël Varane (40th) and Antoine Griezmann (61st). The semi-finals saw a neighbourly clash with Belgium, who had won their five tournament games up to that point and had already scored 14 goals. But again, the French defence did not allow a goal, so defender Samuel Umtiti’s goal was enough for the French to reach the final. Here they met the Croats, who were in the final of a World Cup for the first time but had to go to extra time three times on the way there. The French took the lead with the first own goal in the final in World Cup history in the 18th minute. They benefited from the Argentine referee failing to spot a Griezmann swallow and ruling it a free kick for France.[6] Griezmann’s free-kick was deflected into his own net by Mario Mandžukić. Ten minutes later, however, the French equalised through Ivan Perišić, who ten minutes later had the ball bounce off his hand in his own penalty area. The referee, after consulting the video assistant, ruled it a deliberate handball and awarded Griezmann a penalty. As the Croatians pressed for an equaliser in the second half, Pogba and Mbappé added two more goals. The Croatians were still trying to turn the game around despite flagging efforts, and Mandžukić was able to take advantage of captain Hugo Lloris’ carelessness to correct the result. In the end, the French managed to hold on for a 4-2 win and became world champions for the second time. Coach Deschamps, captain of the 1998 world champions, is thus in the same league as Mário Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer, who were also world champions as a player, coach and team manager respectively. The World Cup title moved France up six places in the FIFA world rankings, which they have topped since August 2018 – along with World Cup third-placed Belgium as of September.

2022 in Qatar

France have been drawn in a group of five for the qualifiers as they take part in the 2020/21 UEFA Nations League Final Four tournament in autumn 2021. Their opponents are Ukraine, Finland, Bosnia&Herzegovina and Kazakhstan. The teams from Belarus and Estonia, also drawn in the group, were assigned to a different group for climatic reasons, as Ukraine and Finland were already in the group. There have been six wins, three draws (all in European Championship qualifiers) and one defeat against Ukraine in ten matches, the latter in the 2014 World Cup qualifiers, but it had no negative impact for the French and was of no use to Ukraine. Most recently, there was a 7-1 win in a friendly in October 2020, the highest defeat for Ukraine, who also started with five debutants due to COVID-19. The Finns have won eight of their nine matches, including six in World Cup qualifiers, and lost one at home in October 2020. The Bosnians have won two and drawn two, one each in friendlies and qualifying for Euro 2012. Only the French have played against Kazakhstan.

Players

Ranking of the French World Cup players with the most appearances

01. Fabien Barthez and Thierry Henry – 17 appearances in 3 and 4 tournaments respectively
03. Lilian Thuram – 16 appearances in 3 tournaments
04. Maxime Bossis – 15 appearances in 3 tournaments
05. Hugo Lloris, Michel Platini – 14 appearances in 3 tournaments
07. Manuel Amoros, Alain Giresse, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Jean Tigana, David Trezeguet, Raphaël Varane, Patrick Vieira and Zinédine Zidane – 12 appearances in 2 and 3 (Trezeguet, Vieira, Zidane) tournaments respectively
16. Patrick Battiston, Paul Pogba – 11 appearances in 3 and 2 tournaments respectively
18. Marcel Desailly, William Gallas, Blaise Matuidi, Franck Ribéry, Dominique Rocheteau, Didier Six, Marius Trésor, Sylvain Wiltord – 10 appearances each in 2 or 3 (Rocheteau) tournaments

Ranking of the French World Cup players with the most goals

1. Just Fontaine – 13 goals
2. Thierry Henry – 6 goals
3. Michel Platini and Zinédine Zidane – 5 goals
5. Antoine Griezmann, Raymond Kopa, Dominique Rocheteau – 4 goals

World Cup Captains

  • 1930: Alexandre Villaplane
  • 1934: Alexis Thépot
  • 1938: Étienne Mattler
  • 1954: Robert Jonquet (1st game), Roger Marche (2nd game)
  • 1958: Robert Jonquet, Roger Marche (2nd match), Armand Penverne (match for 3rd place)
  • 1966: Marcel Artelesa
  • 1978: Marius Trésor
  • 1982: Michel Platini, Marius Trésor (against Austria and Poland)
  • 1986: Michel Platini, Patrick Battiston (match for 3rd place)
  • 1998: Didier Deschamps, Marcel Desailly (3rd group match)
  • 2002: Marcel Desailly
  • 2006: Zinédine Zidane, Patrick Vieira (3rd group match)
  • 2010: Patrice Evra, Alou Diarra (3rd group match)
  • 2014: Hugo Lloris
  • 2018: Hugo Lloris, Raphaël Varane (3rd group match)

Proportion of players playing abroad in the World Cup squad

Up to and including 1954, no “Legionnaires” were used. From 1958 until 1986 only a few legionnaires were nominated. From 1998 onwards, legionnaires made up the majority of the squad. France is the last world champion whose World Cup squad was made up of a majority of legionnaires. Only Brazil also nominated a majority of legionnaires (12) when winning their fourth World Cup title in 1994. Alongside Argentina (1978/1 legionnaire and 1986/7 legionnaires) and Spain (2010/3 legionnaires), France are the only team never to have won the World Cup without legionnaires.

Year (Games) Number (countries) Players (stakes)
1930–1938, 1954 0
1958 (6) 1 (Spain) Raymond Kopa (6)
1966 (3) 2 (1 in Italy, 1 in Spain) Nestor Combin (1); Lucien Muller (0)
1978 (3) 0
1982 (7) 2 (1 in Germany, 1 in Italy) Didier Six (7); Michel Platini (5)
1986 (7) 2 (1 in Belgium, 1 in Italy) Jean-Pierre Papin (4); Michel Platini (6)
1998 (7) 13 (1 in Germany, 4 in England, 7 in Italy, 1 in Spain) Bixente Lizarazu (6); Bernard Lama (0), Frank Lebœuf (3), Emmanuel Petit (6), Patrick Vieira (2); Alain Boghossian (5), Vincent Candela (1), Marcel Desailly (7), Didier Deschamps (6), Youri Djorkaeff (7), Lilian Thuram (6), Zinédine Zidane (5); Christian Karembeu (4)
2002 (3) 18 (2 in Germany, 8 in England, 5 in Italy, 3 in Spain) Bixente Lizarazu (3), Willy Sagnol (0); Fabien Barthez (3), Marcel Desailly (3), Youri Djorkaeff (2), Thierry Henry (2), Emmanuel Petit (2), Mikaël Silvestre (0), Patrick Vieira (3), Sylvain Wiltord (3); Alain Boghossian (0), Vincent Candela (2), Johan Micoud (2), Lilian Thuram (3), David Trezeguet (3); Philippe Christanval (0), Claude Makélélé (1), Zinédine Zidane (1)
2006 (7) 12 (1 in Germany, 7 in England, 3 in Italy, 1 in Spain) Willy Sagnol (7); Jean-Alain Boumsong (0), Pascal Chimbonda (0), William Gallas (7), Thierry Henry (7), Louis Saha (3), Mickaël Silvestre (1), Claude Makélélé (7); Lilian Thuram (7), David Trezeguet (3), Patrick Vieira (7); Zinédine Zidane (6)
2010 (3) 12 (1 in Germany, 7 in England, 1 in Greece, 3 in Spain) Franck Ribéry (3); Nicolas Anelka (2), Gaël Clichy (1), Abou Diaby (3), Patrice Evra (2), William Gallas (3), Florent Malouda (3), Bacary Sagna (3); Djibril Cissé (1); Éric Abidal (2), Sébastien Squillaci (1), Thierry Henry (3)
2014 (5) 15 (10 in England, 1 in Italy, 1 in Portugal, 3 in Spain) Mathieu Debuchy (4), Patrice Evra (4), Olivier Giroud (5), Laurent Koscielny (4), Hugo Lloris (5), Loïc Rémy (2), Bacary Sagna (1), Mamadou Sakho (4), Morgan Schneiderlin (1), Moussa Sissoko (4); Paul Pogba (5), Eliaquim Mangala (4); Karim Benzema (5), Antoine Griezmann (4), Raphaël Varane (5)
2018 (7) 14 (2 in Germany, 5 in England, 1 in Italy, 6 in Spain) Benjamin Pavard (6), Corentin Tolisso (5); Olivier Giroud (7), N’Golo Kanté (7), Hugo Lloris (6), Benjamin Mendy (1), Paul Pogba (6); Blaise Matuidi (5); Ousmane Dembélé (4), Antoine Griezmann (7), Lucas Hernández (7), Steven Nzonzi (5), Samuel Umtiti (6), Raphaël Varane (7)

Players banned at World Championships

  • 1982: Manuel Amoros received a yellow card in each of the last two preliminary round matches and was suspended for the first intermediate round match against Austria.
  • 1986: William Ayache received a second yellow card in the round of 16 and was suspended for the quarter-finals. Luis Fernández received a second yellow card in the semi-final and was suspended for the third-place match.
  • 1998: Zinédine Zidane received a red card in the second group match for kicking and was suspended for the last group match and the round of 16. Laurent Blanc received a red card in the semi-final and was suspended for the final. In the latter, Marcel Desailly received a yellow card, which otherwise had no further effect, as did Didier Deschamps’ second yellow card.
  • 2002: Thierry Henry received a red card in the second group match against Uruguay and was suspended for the final group match against Denmark, as was Emmanuel Petit who received a second yellow card.
  • 2006: Éric Abidal and captain Zinédine Zidane were suspended for the final preliminary round match after receiving two yellow cards in the first two preliminary round matches. Louis Saha received a yellow card in each of the quarter-finals and semi-finals and was suspended for the final. Zidane received a red card in the final. As this ended the tournament, it had no further effect, and after Zidane ended his national team career, it had no effect on subsequent competitive matches. Zidane instead committed himself to three days of community service.[7] Willy Sagnol’s second yellow card of the final round, which was his third of the tournament, also had no further effect.
  • 2010: Yoann Gourcuff received a red card in the last group match, but since France was eliminated it had no further effect on the tournament.
  • 2014: Yohan Cabaye was suspended for the last preliminary round match after receiving two yellow cards in the first two preliminary round matches.
  • 2018: Blaise Matuidi was suspended for the quarter-final against Uruguay after receiving two yellow cards.

Games

France has played 66 World Cup matches so far. 34 games were won, 19 lost and 13 ended in a draw. Seven times draw games had to be extended, because a winner had to be determined, against Italy twice. Only two games were won in extra time, either in regulation or by golden goal, and two games were won on penalties. Two games were lost on penalties, one game in extra time.
France participated twice (1930, 1954, 2002) in the opening or first match of the World Cup and lost as defending champions in 2002. So far, the French team has had nine home matches in World Cups and had to face the host 3×, always (1966, 1978 and 2010) in the preliminary round and always lost.

France played the defending champions five times: against Italy in the quarter-finals in 1938, against Germany in the third-place match in 1958, against Italy in the round of 16 in 1986, against Brazil in the final in 1998 and against Brazil in the quarter-finals in 2006. Only the first match was lost. France have played the eventual world champions six times: against Italy in the quarter-finals in 1938, against Brazil in the semi-finals in 1958, against England in the preliminary round in 1966, against Argentina in the preliminary round in 1978, against Italy in the final in 2006 and against Germany in the quarter-finals in 2014.

France played Italy most often in World Cup finals (five times) and faced World Cup newcomers eight times: 1934/Austria, 1958/Northern Ireland, 1982/Kuwait, 1986/Canada, 1998/South Africa and Croatia, 2002/Senegal and 2006/Togo.

France has played in 46 World Cup cities so far, with Saint Denis being the most frequent (4×).

All World Cup games
No. Date Result Opponents Occasion Venue Comments
1. 13.07.1930 Mexico 1918Mexiko Mexico 4:1 Preliminary round Montevideo (URY) First international match against Mexico, first win against a non-European team, first match outside Europe, first win against Mexico
2. 15.07.1930 ArgentinaArgentinien Argentina 0:1 Preliminary round Montevideo (URY) First international match against Argentina
3. 19.07.1930 ChileChile Chile 0:1 Preliminary round Montevideo (URY) First international match against Chile, 100th international match
4. 27.05.1934 AustriaÖsterreich Austria 2:3 n. V. Round of 16 Turin (ITA)
5. 05.06.1938 BelgiumBelgien Belgium 3:1 Round of 16 Colombes 150. International match
6. 12.06.1938 Italy 1861Königreich Italien (1861–1946) Italy 1:3 Quarterfinals Colombes
7. 16.06.1954 Yugoslavia Socialist Federal RepublicJugoslawien Yugoslavia 0:1 Preliminary round Lausanne (CHE)
8. 19.06.1954 Mexico 1934Mexiko Mexico 3:2 Preliminary round Geneva (CHE)
9. 08.06.1958 Paraguay 1954Paraguay Paraguay 7:3 Preliminary round Norrköping (SWE) First international match against Paraguay
10. 11.06.1958 Yugoslavia Socialist Federal RepublicJugoslawien Yugoslavia 2:3 Preliminary round Västerås (SWE)
11. 15.06.1958 ScotlandSchottland Scotland 2:1 Preliminary round Örebro (SWE)
12. 19.06.1958 Northern IrelandNordirland Northern Ireland 4:0 Quarterfinals Norrköping (SWE)
13. 24.06.1958 Brazil 1889Brasilien Brazil 2:5 Semifinals Solna (SWE)
14. 28.06.1958 Germany Federal RepublicBundesrepublik Deutschland FRG 6:3 Match for 3rd place Gothenburg (SWE) highest victory against Germany
15. 13.07.1966 Mexico 1934Mexiko Mexico 1:1 Preliminary round London (ENG)
16. 15.07.1966 UruguayUruguay Uruguay 1:2 Preliminary round London (ENG)
17. 20.07.1966 EnglandEngland England 0:2 Preliminary round London (ENG)
18. 02.06.1978 ItalyItalien Italy 1:2 1. Final round Mar del Plata (ARG)
19. 06.06.1978 ArgentinaArgentinien Argentina 1:2 1. Final round Buenos Aires (ARG)
20. 10.06.1978 Hungary 1957Ungarn Hungary 3:1 1. Final round Mar del Plata (ARG)
21. 16.06.1982 EnglandEngland England 1:3 1. Final round Bilbao (ESP)
22. 21.06.1982 KuwaitKuwait Kuwait 4:1 1. Final round Valladolid (ESP) First international match against Kuwait
23. 24.06.1982 CzechoslovakiaTschechoslowakei Czechoslovakia 1:1 1. Final round Valladolid (ESP)
24. 28.06.1982 AustriaÖsterreich Austria 1:0 2. Final round Madrid (ESP)
25. 04.07.1982 Northern IrelandNordirland Northern Ireland 4:1 2. Final round Madrid (ESP)
26. 08.07.1982 Germany Federal RepublicBundesrepublik Deutschland FRG 3:3 n. V. Semifinals Seville (ESP) 4:5 after penalty shootout (Night of Sevilla)
27. 10.07.1982 PolandPolen Poland 2:3 Match for 3rd place Alicante (ESP)
28. 01.06.1986 CanadaKanada Canada 1:0 Preliminary round León (MEX) First international match against Canada
29. 05.06.1986 Soviet UnionSowjetunion Soviet Union 1:1 Preliminary round León (MEX)
30. 09.06.1986 Hungary 1957Ungarn Hungary 3:0 Preliminary round León (MEX)
31. 17.06.1986 ItalyItalien Italy 2:0 Round of 16 Mexico City (MEX)
32. 21.06.1986 BrazilBrasilien Brazil 1:1 n. V. Quarterfinals Guadalajara (MEX) 4:3 after penalty shootout
33. 25.06.1986 Germany Federal RepublicBundesrepublik Deutschland FRG 0:2 Semifinals Guadalajara (MEX)
34. 28.06.1986 BelgiumBelgien Belgium 4:2 n. V. Match for 3rd place Puebla (MEX)
35. 12.06.1998 Sud AfricaSüdafrika South Africa 3:0 Preliminary round Marseille
36. 18.06.1998 Saudi ArabiaSaudi-Arabien Saudi Arabia 4:0 Preliminary round Saint Denis First international match against Saudi Arabia
37. 24.06.1998 DenmarkDänemark Denmark 2:1 Preliminary round Lyon
38. 28.06.1998 Paraguay 1990Paraguay Paraguay 1:0 i. V. Round of 16 Lens Victory through 1st Golden Goal in World Cup history
39. 03.07.1998 ItalyItalien Italy 0:0 n. V. Quarterfinals Saint Denis 4:3 after penalty shootout
40. 08.07.1998 CroatiaKroatien Croatia 2:1 Semifinals Saint Denis First international match against Croatia
41. 12.07.1998 BrazilBrasilien Brazil 3:0 Finale Saint Denis First world championship title
42. 31.05.2002 SenegalSenegal Senegal 0:1 Preliminary round Seoul (KOR) First international match against Senegal
43. 06.06.2002 UruguayUruguay Uruguay 0:0 Preliminary round Busan (KOR)
44. 11.06.2002 DenmarkDänemark Denmark 0:2 Preliminary round Incheon (KOR)
45. 13.06.2006 SwitzerlandSchweiz Switzerland 0:0 Preliminary round Stuttgart (DEU)
46. 18.06.2006 Korea SudSüdkorea South Korea 1:1 Preliminary round Leipzig (DEU)
47. 23.06.2006 TogoTogo Togo 2:0 Preliminary round Cologne (DEU) First international match against Togo
48. 27.06.2006 SpainSpanien Spain 3:1 Round of 16 Hanover (DEU)
49. 01.07.2006 BrazilBrasilien Brazil 1:0 Quarterfinals Frankfurt (DEU)
50. 05.07.2006 PortugalPortugal Portugal 1:0 Semifinals Munich (DEU) 50. World Cup match
51. 09.07.2006 ItalyItalien Italy 1:1 n. V. Finale Berlin (DEU) 3:5 after penalty shootout
52. 11.06.2010 UruguayUruguay Uruguay 0:0 Preliminary round Cape Town (ZAF)
53. 17.06.2010 MexicoMexiko Mexico 0:2 Preliminary round Polokwane (ZAF)
54. 22.06.2010 Sud AfricaSüdafrika South Africa 1:2 Preliminary round Bloemfontein (ZAF) Last game under coach Raymond Domenech
55. 15.06.2014 HondurasHonduras Honduras 3:0 Preliminary round Porto Alegre (BRA) First international match against Honduras
56. 20.06.2014 SwitzerlandSchweiz Switzerland 5:2 Preliminary round Salvador da Bahia (BRA)
57. 25.06.2014 EcuadorEcuador Ecuador 0:0 Preliminary round Rio de Janeiro (BRA)
58. 30.06.2014 NigeriaNigeria Nigeria 2:0 Round of 16 Brasília (BRA)
59. 04.07.2014 GermanyDeutschland Germany 0:1 Quarterfinals Rio de Janeiro (BRA)
60. 16.06.2018 AustraliaAustralien Australia 2:1 Preliminary round Kazan (RUS)
61. 21.06.2018 PeruPeru Peru 1:0 Preliminary round Ekaterinburg (RUS)
62. 26.06.2018 DenmarkDänemark Denmark 0:0 Preliminary round Moscow (RUS) First goalless game of the 2018 World Cup
63. 30.06.2018 ArgentinaArgentinien Argentina 4:3 Round of 16 Kazan (RUS) First World Cup win against Argentina
64. 06.07.2018 UruguayUruguay Uruguay 2:0 Quarterfinals Nizhny Novgorod (RUS)
65. 10.07.2018 BelgiumBelgien Belgium 1:0 Semifinals Saint Petersburg (RUS)
66. 15.07.2018 CroatiaKroatien Croatia 4:2 Finale Moscow (RUS)

The French team achieved its highest victories against the following countries in World Cup tournaments:

  • BrazilBrasilien Brazil: Final 1998 – 3:0
  • GermanyDeutschland Germany: Match for 3rd place 1958 – 6:3 (also a 3:0 in a friendly match)
  • HondurasHonduras Honduras: Preliminary round 2014 – 3:0 (only match against Honduras)
  • ItalyItalien Italy: Round of 16 1986 – 2-0 (also 2-0 twice in friendlies and 3-1 at the 1920 Olympics, in two friendlies and a qualifier for Euro 2008)
  • CanadaKanada Canada: Preliminary round 1986 – 1:0 (only match against Canada)
  • KuwaitKuwait Kuwait: 1982 preliminary round – 4:1
  • NigeriaNigeria Nigeria: Round of 16 2014 – 2:0 (only win against Nigeria)
  • Northern IrelandNordirland Northern Ireland: Quarter-final 1958 – 4:0 (also a 4:0 in a friendly)
  • ParaguayParaguay Paraguay: Preliminary round 1958 – 7:3
  • PeruPeru Peru: Preliminary round 2018 – 1:0 (only win against Peru)
  • Saudi ArabiaSaudi-Arabien Saudi Arabia: Preliminary round 1998 – 4:0 (only match against Saudi Arabia)
  • SpainSpanien Spanish national football team: Round of 16 2006 – 3:1 (also a 3:1 in the European Championship qualifier 1992 and a 2:0 in the European Championship final 1984)
  • SudafrikaSüdafrika South Africa: Preliminary round 1998 – 3:0
  • TogoTogo Togo: Preliminary round 2006 – 2:0 (only match against Togo)
  • Hungary1957Ungarn Hungary: Preliminary round 1986 – 3:0 (also a 3:0 in a friendly match)
  • UruguayUruguay Uruguay: Quarterfinals 2018 – 2-0 (also a 2-0 in the 1985 Intercontinental Cup)

The French team conceded their highest defeats in World Cup tournaments against the following countries:

  • BrazilBrasilien Brazil: Semifinal 1958 – 2:5 (also a 0:3 in a friendly match)
  • ChileChile Chile: Preliminary round 1930 – 0:1 (also a 1:2 in a friendly match)
  • MexicoMexiko Mexico: Preliminary round 2010 – 0:2 (only defeat against Mexico)
  • SenegalSenegal Senegal: Preliminary round 2002 – 0:1 (only match against Senegal)
  • SudafrikaSüdafrika SouthAfrica: Preliminary round 2010 – 1:2 (only defeat against South Africa)

Record against the other world champions at world championships

  • ItalyItalien Italy: 5 matches (1× final), 1 win, 2 draws (1× won and 1× lost in penalty shootout), 2 losses, 5:6 goals (7:8 i. E.)
  • BrazilBrasilien Brazil: 4 matches (including 1× final), 2 wins, 1 draw (won on penalties), 1 defeat, 7:6 goals (4:3 on penalties)
  • GermanyDeutschland Germany: 4 matches (including 2 semi-finals), 1 win, 1 draw (defeat in final), 2 defeats, 9:9 goals (4:5 in final)
  • UruguayUruguay Uruguay: 3 games, 2 draws, 1 defeat, 1:2 goals
  • ArgentinaArgentinien Argentina: 2 games, 2 losses, 1:3 goals
  • EnglandEngland England: 2 games, 2 losses, 1:5 goals
  • SpainSpanien Spain: 1 match, 1 win, 3:1 goals

Records

(Status: after the 2018 World Cup)

Team

  • Only team to participate in four neighboring countries: Italy/1934, Switzerland/1954, Spain/1982 and Germany/2006
  • The most frequent semi-final matches (2 × each) were France versus Germany (1982 and 1986) and Germany versus Italy (1970 and 2006)
  • Highest wins in quarter-finals after preliminary round (1954 to 1970) 1958 France – Northern Ireland and 1966 Germany – Uruguay both 4-0
  • First World Cup penalty shoot-out: 1982 France – Germany 4:5
  • Last host to become world champion: 1998
  • Fewest goals conceded as hosts: France (1998, 2 in 7 games), Italy (1990, 2 in 7 games) and Mexico (1986, 2 in 5 games)
  • First team to win the World Cup, playing against teams from four confederations: 1 × AFC and CAF, 2 × CONMEBOL and 3 × UEFA.
  • Most wins against the defending champion: 4
  • First world champion to become European champion: 1998/2000
  • Most goals in a match for 3rd place: 6 against Germany 1958
  • Most goals in 3 tournaments:
    • 1958: 23 in 6 games
    • 1982: 18 in 7 games
    • 1998: 15 in 7 games
  • France is the second most frequent first World Cup opponent: 6× (France in 1930 for Argentina and Mexico, in 1934 for Austria, in 1986 for Canada, in 1998 for South Africa and in 2002 for Senegal) – only Argentina was more often (7×) the first World Cup opponent of newcomers

Players

  • The first World Cup goal: Lucien Laurent after 19 minutes against Mexico at the 1930 World Cup.
  • First goalkeeper to save a penalty kick: Alex Thépot in 1930 in the France – Chile match in the 30th minute of the match
  • The first golden goal at a World Cup was scored by Laurent Blanc in the round of 16 at the 1998 World Cup against Paraguay to make it 1-0 for France.
  • Most games without conceding a goal: Fabien Barthez (1998-2006) and Peter Shilton (England/1982-1990) – 10 each
  • Most goals in a World Cup tournament: Just Fontaine – 13 goals in 6 matches at the 1958 World Cup
  • Three Frenchmen were World Cup record scorers:
    • Lucien Laurent – July 13, 1930, 19th minute to July 13, 1930, 87th minute with 1 goal
    • André Maschinot – 13 July 1930, 87th minute to 17 July 1930 with 2 goals
    • Just Fontaine – June 28, 1958, 78th minute to July 7, 1974 with 12 to 13 goals
  • A Frenchman scored a World Cup anniversary goal:
    • 1200. Goal: Jean-Pierre Papin – the 1:0 in the group match against Canada on 1 June 1986
  • Once a Frenchman was awarded as the best player of the tournament: 2006 Zinédine Zidane
  • Once a Frenchman was awarded as best goalkeeper of the tournament: 1998 Fabien Barthez
  • Twice, French players have been named the best young players of the tournament: Paul Pogba (2014) and Kylian Mbappé (2018)

Negative records

  • First host not to become world champion: 1938
  • Most red cards: Zinédine Zidane and Rigobert Song (Cameroon) – twice each in a total of 3 World Cup appearances.
  • Most goals conceded in tournament: 1958 – 15 in 6 matches
  • The only defending champions to go out goalless in the preliminary round: 2002
  • Together with Italy, the world champions who were eliminated most often in the preliminary round or 1st round: 7× (only Scotland, who never (8×) made it past the preliminary round, were eliminated more often in the preliminary round)

See also

  • French national football team/European Championships
  • French women’s national football team/World Cups

References and footnotes

  1. Of which two games each won and lost on penalties.
  2. According to All-time FIFA World Cup Ranking 1930-2014 [1] (PDF; 200 kB)
  3. dfb.de: World Cup qualifying 1934: World Cup ticket solved in 90 minutes
  4. dfb.de: “5:4 vs. France: The “Thriller of Seville””
  5. kicker.de: “France will make it – but not under their own steam”
  6. ran.de: Final referee Pitana in focus – but “hand penalty correct”
  7. cnn.com: “FIFA bans Zidane for head butt”

Sources