It was a dramatic final that barely let the French manager exhale until the final whistle, but as that whistle rang, it brought a moment of history as the 49-year-old joined Franz Beckenbauer and Mario Zagallo as the only people to win the World Cup as both player and manager.
Here’s an analysis of how Deschamps fared on Sunday.
Goals – 4
Shots – 7
Shots on target – 6
Possession – 34%
Pass Accuracy – 68%
France lined up in a familiar 4-2-3-1, with the tactics they’d been using throughout the tournament – sitting deep, soaking up the pressure and ready to spring a counter. Indeed, Croatia were ideal opponents for Deschamps, who has made this France team content to let their opposition have the ball.
It was nonetheless a risky strategy and for the entire first half France weren’t in the game. Yet they led 2-1 at the end before running away with the game in the second period.
TACTICAL TALKING POINT
This was the rare game where N’Golo Kante’s impact was limited – he had fewer touches than anyone else in the first half – and it was to Deschamps’ credit that he acted swiftly in taking his ever-reliable midfielder off soon after the break.
That France scored twice so quickly after Steven N’Zonzi came on, both from surging runs in midfield, was telling. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say the game changed on that substitution.
Deschamps has been criticised for putting the handbrakes on this thrilling French team too much, but on Sunday he earned the ultimate vindication. His style has led Les Bleus to a second World Cup trophy, an accolade no one will ever take away from him.
That it added to his personal collection, having won the trophy as a player, only added to his reputation, and it’s safe to say no manager has emerged with his reputation more enhanced this summer.
RATING – 8/10
France rode their luck before roaring past Croatia to win the World Cup for a second time as a thrilling tournament came to a fitting conclusion.
The 4-2 victory under stormy skies at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium means Didier Deschamps’ side have buried the pain of their defeat in the Euro 2016 final on home soil.
Here’s how some France players reacted to the result.
They pulled away through Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe goals in the second half, although Hugo Lloris’ inexplicable error gifted Mandzukic a goal at the other end as Croatia made things interesting.
But Didier Deschamps’ side held on as he joined Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer as the only three players to win the the World Cup as both player and coach.
Here we rate the French players:
Hugo Lloris – 4:
What on earth was going through his mind? With France cruising his horrible blunder gave Croatia hope. Lucky his side were comfortable.
Benjamin Pavard – 6:
That the centre-back has performed admirably at right-back deserves to be applauded. Stoic and strong, but struggled to deal with Perisic. Five clearances for France was joint second most.
Raphael Varane – 7:
Calm and assured to continue his fine tournament. Adds the World Cup to an awesome list of accolades no 25-year-old should realistically possess.
Samuel Umtiti – 6:
Alert and aware, impressive amid Croatia’s late onslaught. Seven clearances led his side as did 87 per cent pass accuracy (among starters).
Lucas Hernandez – 7:
Hasn’t had a great tournament but his run to set up Mbappe was brilliant. Two dribbles trailed only Mbappe.
Kylian Mbappe – 8:
Youngest goalscorer in a World Cup final since Pele 60 years ago. Was a constant threat all evening. Goal capped an excellent month.
Paul Pogba – 7:
Pogba showed up to the party with the killer third, starting the move that led to it with a sublime pass to Mbappe. More tackles (4) than any Frenchman.
N’Golo Kante – 5:
Been a revelation in Russia, but struggled to shackle Croatia’s runners from midfield. Foul on Perisic led to the equaliser.
Blaise Matuidi – 5:
Looked leggy after an impressive tournament. Withdrawn early in the second half and looked exhausted.
Antoine Griezmann – 8:
Dangerous free-kick had to be dealt with and led to the opening goal. Scored the second from the spot coolly. Quietly brilliant between the lines.
Olivier Giroud – 3:
Anonymous. Amazingly, another game without a shot on target. But he now has a World Cup winners’ medal to his name.
Stephen N’Zonzi – 6:
Surprisingly replaced Kante but his introduction helped France get a grip on the game.
Corentin Tolisso – 6:
Brought on to contain Croatia’s craft in the second half.
Nabil Fekir – N/A
France’s third substitution late on to try and inject some pace and stretch Croatia.