Which France players that played in the 2018 World Cup final will also be in the 2022 final?

Now that France have made it to their second consecutive World Cup final, this time against Argentina, we looked back on the team that won in 2018 and compared the two squads.

France won the 2018 World Cup in Russia playing in a lop-sided 4-4-2 that swung its hips round and let Kylian Mbappé and Paul Pogba wreak havoc on teams along their path to acheiving the second star on the shirt. Deschamps, despite being criticised for being ‘boring’, played a 4-2-3-1 with midfielder Blaise Matuidi on the left side of the attacking line. He would only be an attacking player by name, however, as he would shift inwards towards midfield general N’Golo Kanté, forming a solid block of ice that was almost impossible penetrate. This rotation would allow Paul Pogba to step out of his midfield position and advance forward, where he could influence the play alongside Kylian Mbappé, Olivier Giroud and Antoine Griezmann.

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Karim Benzema did not feature in France’s 2018 World Cup-winning squad and has been injured all throughout the 2022 tournament.FRANCK FIFEAFP

How did France play in 2018?

In defensive moments, the shift also meant Pogba could tuck in next to Matuidi and Kanté if needed, forming a three. Between them (well, Kanté), France could recover the ball and have enough players to usually maintain an overload in the middle of the pitch; if they didn’t have an overload, they had enough players with enough talent to solve any particular problem that came along.

This tactical ploy that worked so well has not been used by Deschamps in the 2022 World Cup for one very good reason: his squad is very different to the one he has back in 2018. Only 4 years have passed but a mixture of age, form, injuries and emerging talent have altered the team that Deschamps has chosen and thus changed the way they function on the pitch.

5 – There have been five instances of a France player completing 5+ dribbles in a #FIFAWorldCup match across the last two tournaments; all five of them have been by Kylian Mbappé.

7 v Argentina
6 v Uruguay
7 v Belgium
5 v Poland
6 v Morocco


— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) December 14, 2022

Which players are still in the squad from the 2018 World Cup?

For starters, only 10 of the 23 players that Deschamps took to Russia are still in the squad in 2022. Hugo Lloris, Benjamin Pavard, Raphaël Varane, Antione Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, Kylian Mbappé, Ousmane Dembélé, Steve Mandanda, Lucas Hernández and Alphonse Areola are the players that feature in both squads. Three of those are goalkeepers (Mandanda and Areola, and even they have been changed due to injuries), which leaves seven outfield players.

Luckily, of those seven players, most of them would generally start for France, if it were not for injuries. Lucas Hernández ruptured his cruciate ligament in the opening game of France’s group stage and has been substituted by his brother, Theo, who is now also injured. Benjamin Pavard has been usurped by Joules Koundé at right-back after a poor performance in the first game.

France's Theo Hernandez celebrates scoring their first goal with Olivier Giroud REUTERS/Dylan Martinez     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

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France’s Theo Hernandez celebrates scoring their first goal with Olivier Giroud REUTERS/Dylan Martinez TPX IMAGES OF THE DAYDYLAN MARTINEZREUTERS

What is so special about this France squad?

The key to France’s success, as well as the new tactical innovations by Deschamps for the 2022 World Cup – which you can read about here – has been the continuity of the immense attacking talent at his disposal. Kylian Mbappé is still scarily young: he will turn just 24 two days after the World Cup concludes; Giroud ages like a fine wine; Dembélé is in his mid-twenties and Antoine Griezmann, to give you a hint at the aforementioned tactics article, has been reborn in a new role.

Incoming players like Aurélien Tchouameni have been capable of brilliantly substituting the injured N’Golo Kanté and Adrien Rabiot has not done a bad job in place of Paul Pogba in the same line. Varane is a mainstay (and a doubt for the final) alongside the young Dayot Upamecano and at the back, while Lloris could become the first captain to ever lift two consecutive World Cup trophies.

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