Previous
Portugal
Poland
1
1
FT
Game Details
Sweden
Russia
2
0
FT
Game Details
Scotland
Israel
3
2
FT
Game Details
Montenegro
Romania
0
1
FT
Game Details
Serbia
Lithuania
4
1
FT
Game Details
Kosovo
Azerbaijan
4
0
FT
Game Details
Malta
Faroe Islands
1
1
FT
Game Details
Next

Salzburg finally win a 'Red Bull battle' vs. Leipzig

UEFA Europa League
Read

Inside France's World Cup ceremony

France
Read

Argentina rebuilding job begins with Scaloni and Aimar

Argentina
Read

Does it matter who manages Mexico next?

Mexico
Read

Giroud honours World Cup bet, shaves head

Blog - The Toe Poke
Read

Griezmann wants World Cup ring for France squad

The Toe Poke
Read

France celebrate reaching final: Pamela Anderson, water fight with Macron and tears

Free-Kick: France book World Cup final spot as England vs. Croatia looks set to be a battle of the midfield

President of France Emmanuel Macron enters the team's dressing room. It is only a few minutes after Les Bleus beat Belgium and reached their third World Cup final.

The place is not going totally bonkers yet. But it won't be long. First, Macron congratulates the players: "Well done. You have made your country proud and the French people happy. The country is going mad with happiness thanks to you," he says.

It was his first game in Russia with the team and he will be back on Sunday for the final. One by one, he shakes the players' hands with a little word for each of them.

Benjamin Mendy, the former Marseille player and official joker of the squad, has to do something to recognise Macron, himself a big OM supporter.

"And for the president ..." he starts the song and in a dressing room full of laughter, everyone else follows.

"And for the president ..."

A water fight starts, everyone jumps everywhere and shouts: "We are in the final, we are, we are, we are in the final!"

A few minutes before, coach Didier Deschamps also compliments his men: "I am proud of you," he says. "You played the perfect game. Well done! But it is not over. In a World Cup, we only remember the winners."

The music is blaring, they sing, they dance. Mendy, Blaise Matuidi, Paul Pogba are leading the way, obviously. Lucas Hernandez and Presnel Kimpembe are missing it all because they are at the anti-doping test.

The younger players still can't really appreciate the magnitude of the achievement. "I can't believe it, I can't believe it," whispers Benjamin Pavard, still only 22 with a mere 11 caps and a final to play in his first-ever World Cup.

Kylian Mbappe and Ousmane Dembele are quite incredulous. "It is the best day of my life," says Mbappe, 19, who doesn't have his driving licence but will play a World Cup final on Sunday.

The more experienced ones, those who went through the huge disappointment of the 2016 European Championship and the heartbreaking loss in the final against Portugal, have crucial words.

"This is nothing. We have not won anything. It is not over," shouts Matuidi in the tunnel on his way back towards the dressing room.

"We can't do like in 2016. There is one more game to go, we stay calm, win it and then we enjoy," says Pogba.

The players are checking their phones and discover the incredible scenes back home, the Champs Elysees rammed with fans, the millions of people celebrating all around the country in the streets. They can't believe what they are seeing.

The best moment of the night, however, happened a bit later. Back at the Corinthia, their hotel in the centre of St Petersburg, Les Bleus are reunited with their families. Deschamps decided the team would stay overnight in the city instead of flying back to Moscow straight away like they usually do. It got very emotional then. Lots of hugs and kisses, some tears. Yeo Moriba, Pogba's mum, has been in Russia since the beginning of the competition. She has been at every game and she tells her son to bring her back the World Cup. The dinner is convivial, low-key but means so much to everyone there. It is the first time the players have spent with their families for two weeks, since after the Denmark game.

Pamela Anderson, the former Baywatch star and girlfriend of centre-back Adil Rami, is there. She can be proud of her man, who is playing a very important role in this team. His moustache is the new lucky charm. The players touch it before the game and the team keeps winning. It worked again Tuesday.

In 1998 France had Laurent Blanc's kiss on Fabien Barthez's forehead and in 2006 they had the "We live together, we die together" slogan created by the players. This year, their third World Cup final out of the past six tournaments, it's all about Rami's moustache.

On Wednesday, the French players had a lie in and woke up with images full of happiness and joy in their heads. It is a day to savour. France are in the World Cup final and have a meeting with their destiny on Sunday, 20 years after their last triumph.

Julien Laurens is a London-based French journalist who writes for ESPN FC and Le Parisien. Follow him on Twitter: @LaurensJulien.

Comments

Use a Facebook account to add a comment, subject to Facebook's Terms of Service and Privacy Policy. Your Facebook name, photo & other personal information you make public on Facebook will appear with your comment, and may be used on ESPN's media platforms. Learn more.