France is the world champion. For the second time in its history, the team has lifted the trophy by beating Croatia in Moscow on July 15th.
In the aftermath of France’s historical victory, all the plaudits and praise have been directed toward certain players. Real Madrid’s defender Varane, Atletico’s star Antoine Griezmann, and PSG’s sensation Kylian Mbappe have been the most talked-about and applauded of the bunch, and rightly so.
Even before the tournament began, the top betting sites and bookmakers had Griezmann and Mbappe as favorites to land the best player gong behind Ronaldo and Messi, so any praise they get for France’s victory is justified.
There are, however, two members of the French team who have gotten very little media attention despite being as vital as the aforementioned pair – N’golo Kante and Atletico’s fullback Lucas Hernandez.
Kante is a well-known name in the football world, with his barnstorming performances for Leicester and Chelsea earning him a meteoric rise up the football ladder, but he reached new levels at the world cup. Alongside Lucas, he went about his business quietly, winning back possession of the ball at vital moments and leaving the headline-catching work to his headline-hunting teammates.
World-class performances seem to follow him wherever he goes, but having gained the recognition he deserves at Chelsea, there was no such special attention in Russia for perhaps France’s biggest influence on the pitch.
Second is Spanish born left-back Lucas. Having chosen to play for France over Spain, the defender more than justified that decision with a string of impressive performances and a winners medal to show for it. Having initially come into the line-up as a replacement for the recuperating Benjamin Mendy, he quickly made the left back position his own.
World-class performances against Argentina and Belgium were the highlights of his competition. With 2 assists at the competition, despite being played slightly out of position, Lucas Hernandez, alongside N’golo Kante, can be said to be the unsung hero of France’s victory.
Check out this infographic to see the top performers from France and other countries at the World Cup 2018.