France reached the FIFA World Cup 2018 final on Tuesday after a second-half header from Samuel Umtiti gave them a 1-0 win against Belgium. Belgium enjoyed large amounts of possession but Umtiti’s goal in the 51st minute from a corner ultimately proved the difference as 1998 champions France reached their third World Cup final.
“I’m totally blown away, this is crazy,” said 41-year-old Gilles Rove in Paris’ Belleville neighborhood. “Nobody believed this could happen at the beginning of the World Cup, but this team has really shown something in recent weeks.
“This team gives me Goosebumps, even more so than the team of 1998,” he added, in reference to the last time France won the World Cup, on home soil against Brazil 20 years ago.
“We’re going to the final, we’re going to the final,” scores chanted in one central Paris bar before breaking out into an impromptu rendition of the La Marseillaise national anthem.
France won in front of President Emmanuel Macron, whose popularity has dropped in opinion polls and will be hoping for a World Cup bounce. The French leader went down to the players’ dressing-room after the match.
Asked what Macron told the players, Les Bleus young forward Kylian Mbappe told TF1: “He said he would come back for the final, to see us with the cup.”
The two teams have played 73 matches against each other with Belgium winning 30, France 24 and 19 games ending in draws.