News analysis

French discipline trumps flair but verdict still out on VAR

Youthful Les Bleus have more in tank while it may be the last stand for battling Croats

Croatia's Mario Mandzukic (No. 17) heading Antoine Griezmann's free kick into his own net to give France a 1-0 lead in Sunday's World Cup final at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. Almost half the goals in the competition came from set pieces.
Croatia's Mario Mandzukic (No. 17) heading Antoine Griezmann's free kick into his own net to give France a 1-0 lead in Sunday's World Cup final at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. Almost half the goals in the competition came from set pieces.PHOTO: REUTERS

So there we have it, Vive La France! World champions for the second time in their history following a victory over a brave Croatia - a triumph earned more by solid, obdurate organisation rather than by Gallic flair.

A World Cup final that was effectively a microcosm of the entire tournament with defensive formation the order of the day, an emphasis on no mistakes (ignoring Hugo Lloris' 69th-minute "moment of madness"), performances based on team rather than individual effort, and set pieces the preferred way of breaking the deadlock (47 per cent of goals in the competition came from this route).

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 17, 2018, with the headline 'French discipline trumps flair but verdict still out on VAR'. Print Edition | Subscribe