Date: June 10 – July 12
France won their first ever world title, beating defending champions Brazil three nil in home soil. Various football stars played in the final, including Zinedine Zidane, Lilian Thuram, Marcel Desailly and Didier Deschamps for France; Cafú, Roberto Carlos, Dunga, Rivaldo and Ronaldo for Brazil. The Blues missed the previous two tournaments (1990 World Cup Italy and 1994 World Cup United States), both times losing in the European Qualifiers. As hosts, they were given an automatic spot in the Group Stage.
The goals came from Zidane, twice in the first half, and Emmanuel Petit, in the last play of the game. In the second half, Desailly received a second yellow card (68′), leaving France with ten men. The Canarinha could not take advantage of this, unable to score even though Ronaldo was their striker.
It is important to mention that Ronaldo suffered convulsions and loss of consciousness hours before the final, possibly because a medicine for his injured knee, entered his veins when it was injected. The whole squad was deeply worried for Ronaldo’s health, which might explain the performance and attitude of some players.
Croatia finished third, stunning the world with their outstanding results. Croatia overcame Germany in the quarter-finals and the Netherlands in the third place match. Davor Suker was the top scorer of the competition -6 goals in 7 games.
There was an increase in the number of countries, from 24 to 32, expanding the number of groups to eight. The format stayed the same, the two best teams of each group reached the knockout stage.
Brazil vs. Netherlands: 1 – 1 (penalties: 4 – 2)
Goals: Ronaldo 46′, Patrick Kluivert 87′
France vs. Croatia: 2 – 1
Goals: Davor Suker 46′, Lilian Thuram 47′ – 70′
Netherlands vs. Croatia: 1 – 2
Goals: Robert Prosinecki 14′, Boudewijn Zenden 22′, Davor Suker 36′
Brazil vs. France: 0 – 3
Goals: Zinedine Zidane 27′ – 45 + 1′, Emmanuel Petit 90 + 3′
|1. Davor Suker||Croatia||7||6|
|2. Chrisitian Vieri||Italy||5||5|
|3. Gabriel Batistuta||Argentina||5||5|
[Images property of Ficha Deportiva: Panini S.p.A. – Modena Album]