France became the first defending World Cup winner to qualify for the round of 16 since Brazil in 2006, in the FIFA World Cup 2022, after it beat Denmark at the Stadium 974 in Qatar, on Saturday.
Two second-half goals from Kylian Mbappe, despite a goal from Denmark’s Andreas Christensen, confirmed its route for the pre-quarterfinals of Qatar 2022.
The first goal came just after the hour-mark, when a pass from Theo Hernandez was carried into the box by Mbappe, who finished with ease past goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. But the defining moment of the match came in the 86th minute when Antoine Griezmann’s cross was slotted in by the 23-year-old for his second of the night.
With the goal, the Paris Saint-Germain striker became the joint-highest goalscorer in the FIFA World Cup and also the second-highest goal scorer for France in the World Cups, tied with Zinedine Zidane (both seven goals) and just behind Just Fontaine (13 goals).
The win breaks the ‘champion’s curse’ for the Les Blues, who suffered the wrath of the curse 20 years ago, when it was eliminated in the group stage, after winning the World Cup in 1998.
What is the champion’s curse?
Since 1998, European countries winning the FIFA World Cup have failed to make it through beyond the group stages, starting with France, 14 years ago.
Italy, the FIFA World Cup 2006 winner was knocked out in the 2010 edition of the tournament, while Spain, winning its maiden World Cup in 2010, was eliminated four years later as well.
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Germany followed suit with a shock exit in Russia four years ago, after beating Argentina in the 2014 FIFA World Cup final. Two late goals by Son Heung-min and Kim Young-gwon stunned the defending World Champion as it retuned empty-handed.
Why is it called the France curse in the World Cup?
It is called the France curse in the World Cup because it started with Les Blues in 1998.
Hence, it was poetic justice for France to break the curse, with Didier Deschamps in charge of the side - a man, who was a member of the squad who was first subject to the curse 14 years ago.
No World Cup champion has been able to defend the coveted World crown since Brazil in 1962. With France looking a dangerous side, with six goals in two matches so far, it will be hopeful to script history in Qatar this time around