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Despite playing a central role in the establishment of the World Cup, France had always fallen short at the tournament. That changed on one glorious night in Paris in 1998.
After a strong start to the tournament it was hosting for the second time, France struggled in the knockout stages. It only managed to make the final after defender Lilian Thuram scored the only two goals of his 142-match international career to give France a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over Croatia.
The prevailing view was that beating defending champion Brazil would prove to be beyond Les Bleus. After all, Brazil had Ronaldo, the undoubted player of the tournament.
But France strolled to its maiden title , two first-half headers from the great Zinedine Zidane easing the nerves in the Stade de France. A third goal from Emmanuel Petit in injury time was the cue for wild celebrations across the country, with the team hailed for its multi-ethnic heritage.
In scenes reminiscent of Paris’ liberation from Nazi occupation in 1944, more than 1 million people stormed the Champs-Elysees to celebrate.
For Brazil, the final remains a mystery.
The team just never got going, its underperformance blamed on the health of Ronaldo. To the shock of just about everyone, coach Mario Zagallo left his main striker out of his starting line-up, apparently for health reasons. Years later, Ronaldo said he had a seizure earlier in the day.
However, just before the match, another team sheet was submitted, this time with Ronaldo’s name on it. Whatever happened, Ronaldo was a very different player that night and Brazil was a very different team.
Ronaldo would get another chance four years later to put the ghosts of Paris behind him.
He did just that.
For more, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tmjFa9LB7Pg
AP World Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup
With the Premier League transfer window set to close early this summer, we’ve already begun moving season for players.
Below, Pro Soccer Talk looks at several of the day’s biggest transfer rumors, including another attacking move for UEFA Champions League finalists Liverpool.
Leicester City has had to fend off significant interest in its players for some time, and the Foxes could be in line to lose several quality pieces this transfer window.
The attention is focused on striker Jamie Vardy at the moment though, as the Leicester front man is being targeted by Spanish side Atletico Madrid.
Atleti manager Diego Simeone is inevitably preparing for Antoine Griezmann’s post-World Cup move to Barcelona, which would leave the Spanish runners’ up in desperate need to find another option up front alongside Diego Costa.
Vardy could be a logical solution for Simeone, after scoring 57 PL goals in the last three seasons at the King Power Stadium.
Jurgen Klopp has built something special at Anfield, and with his side nearing a Champions League final appearance next weekend against giants Real Madrid, it appears the German manager isn’t done adding to his brilliant front line just yet.
French TV station Canal+ is reporting that the Reds are “99 percent done” on a move that would bring Lyon attacker Nabil Fekir to Liverpool next season.
The 24-year-old Frenchman will likely command a significant sum, estimated at over $81 million, after the Ligue 1 star notched 23 goals in all competitions this season for the third-place club.
The Wayne Rooney saga at Everton has brought up great doubt that the veteran Englishman will be playing in the PL next season, and it appears the Toffees don’t want the former Manchester United striker back.
The 32-year-old has been strongly linked with a transfer to MLS side D.C. United over recent weeks, however, when Everton manager Sam Allardyce was sacked, that appeared to leave the door open for a Rooney return.
Now, that doesn’t seem to be the case though.
The Toffees are believed to be willing to part ways with Rooney, who totaled 10 goals in 31 appearances for the club in 2017/18.
Finally, Everton could be looking to add another attacking spark, particularly if Rooney exits Goodison Park this summer.
Zaha is coming off of his best season as a professional, having scored nine goals in England’s top flight and guides the Eagles to an 11th-place finish.Follow @MattReedFutbol
The U.S. Men’s National Team will have three good opportunities to assess talents over the coming weeks, and a number of new faces to get closer glances at.
On Sunday, the USMNT announced its 22-man roster ahead of the country’s friendlies against Bolivia, Ireland and France.
Among the notable names to be included by manager Dave Sarachan are Matthew Olosunde of Manchester United, Benfica’s Keaton Parks and Julian Green, who hasn’t made a national team appearance since 2016.
Meanwhile, the selection of forwards from Sarachan features a lot of youth, including Werder Bremen’s Josh Sargent, Paris Saint-Germain’s Tim Weah and Andrija Novakovich — who has been on a goalscoring tear in 2017/18 with Dutch side Telstar.
Goalkeepers: Alex Bono, Bill Hamid, Ethan Horvath
Midfielders: Joe Corona, Julian Green, Weston McKennie, Keaton Parks, Christian Pulisic, Rubio Rubin, Tim Weah
Forwards: Andrija Novakovich, Josh SargentFollow @MattReedFutbol
Mario Balotelli‘s career has been anything but routine, however, the veteran striker has regained his confidence in Ligue 1 and revitalized a career that once looked like it was headed for absolute stardom.
The 27-year-old was recalled to Italy’s national team squad on Saturday for the first time since the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, courtesy of new Azzurri manager Roberto Mancini.
Mancini and Balotelli has a long-standing relationship, after the two first connected at Inter Milan and then Manchester City.
The Nice striker has re-captured his form in France over the past two seasons, scoring 43 goals in all competitions during that span.
With Italy not qualified for this summer’s World Cup, Mancini and Co. have the opportunity to explore new players, and in Balotelli’s case, revisit old ones.
The Azzurri will take on Saudi Arabia on May 28, before meeting France and the Netherlands on June 1 and June 4, respectively.Follow @MattReedFutbol