In one of the most anticipated World Cup Finals of all time between France and Brazil in 1998, Les Bleus shocked the world when they ousted Brazil 3-0, led by the influential Zinedine Zidane’s two goals. Not only were the Brazilians the favorites to win this match in Saint Denis/Stade de France, but they were predicted to win handedly behind a young phenom named Ronaldo Luís Nazário de Lima, who emerged from Romario’s shadow to lead Brazil’s attack.
France’s strong back-line, which included legends such as Marcel Desailly, Lilian Thuram, Bixente Lizarazu, Frank Leboeuf and goalkeeper Fabien Barthez were the heroes of that night despite Zizou’s first half brace. Not only did they held Brazil scoreless, but they managed to shutdown a player who attracted comparison to another Brazilian great, Pele, and had secured consecutive World Player of the Year awards in 1996 and 1997. Ronaldo was Brazil hope in winning successive World Cup titles in 1994 and 1998, but Zinedine Zidane’s headers were the difference maker for France. Mario Zagallo star filled line-up included play-maker Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos, Dunga and Cafu.
On this list are some of the great footballers in history that were in the starting Xl for both teams. Let’s take a look at what these players did prior to 1998 tournament, and where are they now?
22. France: Fabien Barthez
Before the World Cup and Euro Cup success, Fabien Barthez was a winner at a French side AS Monaco, where he helped the club secure the 2000 league title. The Frenchman impressive display in goal alerted Sir Alex Ferguson, who then penned Barthez for £7.8 million in 2000.
The peculiar French goalkeeper’s fine start at Old Trafford didn’t last long as American keeper Tim Howard replaced him in 2003, leading to Barthez’s loan move to French club Marseille, before inking a permanent deal in 2004.
Barthez’s golden generation of French footballers will forever be remembered. The talented squad that included Zinedine Zidane, Patrick Vieira, Lilian Thuram, Marcel Desailly and Lizarazu, won the 1998 World Cup, 2000 Euros, but lost the 2006 World Cup finals to Italy in penalties.
Barthez retired in 2007 and commenced a career in motorsport 2008, where he competes.
21. Brazil: Claudio Taffarel
Although Claudio Taffarel wasn’t a popular keeper, he was solid for Brazil throughout the 1998 World Cup before France defeated them 3-0. The Brazilian started his career in his homeland for Sport Club Internacional in 1985, but only managed 14 games in five years with the club before moving to Italy.
In his 101 caps with the national team, Claudio Taffarel’s had enormous impact on the team in 1994 World Cup, by giving up just one goal in the first round and saving two penalties against Italy in the finals. Taffarel put on another strong display four years later in France. The Brazilian was outstanding in goal, especially in the semifinals against Netherlands, where he stopped two spot kicks, but Taffarel and Brazil would later fall to France in the finals 3-0
After his retirement, Taffarel became Turkish club Galatasaray interim head coach in 2014 and 2015. The former Parma stud has also opened up a player agency.
20. France: Bixente Lizarazu
Lauded as one of the best left-backs in football history for his glory days with Bayern Munich, Bixente Lizarazu was a key component in France’s 1998 World Cup triumph and Euro 2000. The former France international began his career with French club Bordeaux and scored a striking 22 goals in 246 appearances as a left-back.
Bayern Munich then came calling for Lizarazu in 1997, following a brief stay with Athletic Bilbao. The left-back hoisted the Champions League trophy in 2001 while with Bayern and played more than 150 matches there. In 97 matches with France, Lizarazu scored two goals and was a key member in 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000.
Following his retirement in 2006, Lizarazu became a jiu-jitsu champion, which is by far one of the most spectacular transformations a footballer has ever made.
19. Brazil: Junior Baiano
Although Junior Baiano wasn’t a regular call-up to the Brazilian national team, his master display in 1997 FIFA Confederation Cup, which they won, convinced coach Mario Zagallo to select Baiano for the 1998 World Cup. The 6’4″ central defender played a major role in the Brazil squad that reached the finals in Paris.
Like many Brazilians, Baiano started his career in Brazil with Flamengo, where he made 40 appearances before moving to Sao Paulo. The tall defender career took turn for the worst when he received ten match ban for punching an opponent during a game, while playing for German side Werder Bremen. Baiano’s trip with European football came to an end after the incident and he floated around Brazil, China then USA.
In 25 caps with Brazil, Baiano scored two goals and participated in the 1998 World Cup and is now a head coach for a Brazilian side Santa Helena.
18. France: Lilian Thuram
Lilian Thuram, the most capped French player ever with 142 appearances, was one of the best defenders of his generation and was vital to France’s 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 glory.
Thuram’s career began in 1991 with AS Monaco and he quickly showed his worth by being dominant and consistent before transferring to Parma, where he would accumulate 163 Serie A games in five seasons. The versatile defender, who can play both right-back and centre-back, then made a switch to the Italian giants Juventus in 2001 for a hefty fee of £25 million and was an instant success, winning the 2001-02 Scudetto.
Following Juventus relegation in 2006 for their involvement in the Italian Football Scandal, Thuram signed with FC Barcelona on July 24th, 2006. The influential defender made 41 appearances with the team before hanging it up in 2008 because of a heart condition. In his illustrious 14-year career with France, Thuram tallied two goals, which came in the 1998 World Cup semifinals against Croatia.
The Frenchman was named a UNICEF ambassador in 2010 for his fight to end racism.