St Petersburg — Should France go on to win the World Cup on Sunday, they would have peaked perfectly after starting the tournament slowly but gaining momentum when it mattered most. Tournament experience has been key for both the players and coach Didier Deschamps, who has learnt lessons from the last World Cup in Brazil, where they lost to Germany in the quarterfinal, and the disappointment of missing out on home soil in the European Championship two years ago. No more so than on Tuesday as they edged Belgium in the semifinal to put themselves within one game of a second World Cup win, 20 years after their first. While there were questions asked after a far-from-inspiring start, which included a controversial win over Australia and narrowly beating Peru, France still secured a knockout-round spot early from a group in which they were heavy favourites. They have looked better in each game. There were, however, no easy rides in the knockout stages, where the French had to show their ...

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