France Is the First Country in Over 20 Years to Qualify for Consecutive World Cup Finals

France’s quest to repeat as champion reached a climactic stage today when Les Bleus nipped Morocco, 2-0, on goals by Théo Hernandez and Randal Kolo Muani to advance to the World Cup final.

In denying Morocco, the tournament darling, an implausible berth in the final match, France became the first nation in more than two decades to qualify for consecutive finals. The last was Brazil, which actually made three straight, from 1994-2002.

A magnificent French team edged Croatia in 2018 to win the title, and though this squad is no less marvelous, only four of its starters from that year — Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappé and Hugo Lloris — are likely to feature against Lionel Messi, Lionel Messi and Lionel Messi and Argentina on Sunday.

Although nations have played in consecutive finals on five other occasions, only two — Brazil, in 1958 and 1962, and Italy, in 1934 and 1938 — have won both. The other instances include the Netherlands, in 1974 and 1978; West Germany, in 1982, 1986 and 1990; and Brazil, in 1994, 1998 and 2002.