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.
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
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.
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.
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.
17. Brazil: Aldair
Similar to Junior Baiano, Aldair’s career started with Flamengo in 1985 where he helped the club win the elusive Campeonato Brasileiro. After four-years with the Brazilian side, Aldair transferred to Portugal giants Benfica, winning the Portuguese Supercup in his lone season with the club before moving to AS Roma for 13 years.
The Brazilian’s ability to play both sweeper and centre-back got him selected to three different World Cups (1990, 1994 and 1998) andhe was triumphant in 1994. Although he wasn’t blessed with quickness, Aldair was a powerful defender who outclassed his opponents in the air and had technical abilities that made him a complete footballer.
16. France: Marcel Desailly
Marcel Desailly helped throttle Brazil in the 1998 World Cup in France. His powerful, aggressive tackling and desire to win every ball was going to be challenged in the match-up, as he was going against the best attacker at the time in Ronaldo. Indeed, Desailly was sent off in the 68th minutes, but France held on as the fleet-footed striker struggled to find any space.
After beginning his legendary career with Nantes in 1986, Desailly became a star and played for top flight clubs, which included Marseille, AC Milan and Chelsea, before a brief stint in the Middle East for Al-Gharafa and Qatar SC.
15. Brazil: Roberto Carlos
Has there ever been a left-back as good as Roberto Carlos? Yes, Paolo Maldini is certainly up there with him, but Carlos had the ability to cover the whole left side which separated him. He was a rare player that had everything in his arsenal, including long throw ins, bending free kicks, beautiful deliveries, pace, technical abilities and most importantly stamina, as he’d often join the attack. Does this remind you of another Los Blancos current defender?
Roberto Carlos reached the pinnacle of his career when he joined Real Madrid in 1996, following a disagreement with Roy Hodgson at Inter. The Brazilian accumulated more than 500 matches in all competitions and netted 71 goals in his 11 seasons at the Spanish Capital
On July 5th, 2015, Roberto Carlos was appointed as Delhi Dynamos head coach, an Indian Super League club but was let go at the end of the season. The Brazilian has been recently linked with Real Madrid about joining the coaching staff, but no agreement has been made yet.
14. France: Frank Leboeuf
Frank Leboeuf started in place of the suspended Laurent Blanc in the 1998 World Cup finals and was instrumental in helping France defeat Zagallo’s array of talent. Chelsea signed the former French international from Strasburg in the summer of 1996 and he showed why they spent £2.5 million for his services.
The brilliant centre-back abilities to read the game, sublime passing skills and attack when his team needed him to made him a bargain. Leboeuf started his professional career in lower division French leagues, but managed a switch to Laval before transferring to Strasburg where he excelled.
13. Brazil: Cafu
There’s always a reason why Cafu is Brazil’s most capped player of all time with 148 appearances. He was always consistent and is considered one of the greatest full-backs of all time. In his 148 matches with Brazil, Cafu appeared in four World Cups (1994, 1998, 2002 and 2006), winning in 1994 and 2002.
What’s impressive about the creative right-back is that he has won a league title with every club he played for, which goes unnoticed because of the low profile he keeps. During his peak, Cafu played for Serie A clubs AS Roma and AC Milan, becoming an instant hit at both clubs.
After his starry career came to a halt in 2008, winning 21 trophies with Brazil, Cafu now runs a charity foundation in his old neighborhood to inspire younger generation to go after their dreams.
12. France: Didier Deschamps
Didier Deschamps led the golden generation of French teams to the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 glory. Though he was still a good footballer in his own right, Deschamps retired at the age of 32 to pursue a coaching career.
Upon his retirement in 2001, the defensive midfielder was appointed as head coach of AS Monaco, where he won a league cup in 2003 and made it to the Champions League final in 2004. On July 8th, 2012, Deschamps took over the France national football team following Laurent Blanc’s resignation.
With Deschamps in charge, France has improved massively. Les Bleus reached the quarterfinals of the 2014 World Cup and suffered a heartbreaking loss to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal at Euro 2016 in France.
11. Brazil: Dunga
The ball-winning defensive midfielder was Brazil’s heart and soul throughout the 1998 World Cup, but ultimately fell short of the grand prize. Dunga hit the spotlight in the 1990 World Cup, where he started anchoring Brazil’s midfield.
In 91 caps with the national team, Dunga scored six goals and appeared in three World Cups, lifting the 1994 trophy in the United States.
On July 24th, 2006, Brazil named Dunga as their next head coach, despite him having no previous coaching experience at the professional level. The former skipper managed to win to lead Brazil to a successive Copa America title in 2007 by defeating Argentina 3-0, but Dunga never managed to bring home a FIFA World Cup title, which was the objective. He was eventually relieved of his duty after the 2010 World Cup, but was rehired in 2014, only to be fired again in 2016.
10. France: Emmanuel Petit
Emmanuel Petit clinched the 1998 World Cup for France by scoring the third goal in the 93rd minute. After nine seasons with AS Monaco, Emmanuel Petit left for English side Arsenal in June 1997.
The French midfielder shockingly transferred to Barcelona, following a three-year stint with Arsenal in what proved to be one of the worst signings in their history. In his only season with Barca, Petit amassed 23 matches, scoring just one goal.
After struggling with injuries, Petit retired in January 2005 with 63 caps for the French national football team and played for clubs Monaco, Arsenal, Barcelona and Chelsea.
On May 2016, online broker UFX signed Emmanuel Petit as brand ambassador: “We are excited to have a distinguished talent such as Emmanuel Petit joining the UFX family, and we look forward to the countless possibilities such a unique partnership affords us both,” Dennis de Jong, Managing Director at UFX.com revealed.
9. Brazil: Cesar Sampaio
Cesar Sampaio was part of the Brazilian 1998 World Cup team that was defeated in Paris, making appearances in six matches. Sampaio was an outstanding midfielder that went unnoticed because of the star players Brazil possessed in the 1998. His 4th minute header was the first goal of the tournament against Scotland
The defensive midfielder debuted for the famous Brazilian side Santos in 1986, before a short spell with his only European team, Deportivo La Coruna, in 2000. Sampaio retired in 2006, following an impressive 20-year career. In 47 caps for Brazil, Cesar Sampaio scored six times and played in the 1998 World Cup.
8. France: Christian Karembeu
The 1998 World Cup winner was plying his trade at the Santiago Bernabeu before the tournament. The versatile midfielder/sweeper played in 51 matches for Real Madrid from 1997-2000, scoring one goal.
French club Nantes gave Christian Karembeu his shot in 1990 and he never looked back on his way to making more than 125 appearances for the side. He also played for Sampdoria, Middlesbrough, Olympiakos, Servette and Bastia. Christian made 53 introductions with France, winning the 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000. He also added a goal to his name.
He retired on October 13th, 2006 and worked as a consultant commentator for the games broadcast by Orange TV and French television. Karembeu is currently the Strategic Advisor for Greek club Olympiakos.
7. Brazil: Leonardo
Throughout his 16 year run as a player, Leonardo played for nine different teams. with his club career beginning in 1987 for none other than Flamengo, the Brazilian club that has produced numerous talents.
Leonardo thrived at a Japanese club Kashima Antlers between 1994-96, scoring 49 goals in 30 appearances before suiting up for Paris Saint-Germain in 1996. Italian giants, AC Milan, would land the Brazilian winger signature in 1997 for €8.5 million and he accumulated accumulated 22 goals for the Rossoneri.
In his international career, Leonardo participated in the 1994 (where he triumphed) and 1998 World Cups, where he started in the final against France before being replaced at half by Denilson.
Leonardo’s managerial career begin with Milan in 2009, but he struggled to lead the side, before moving to rivals Inter, where he also quickly flamed out. He returned to Paris Saint-Germain in 2011 as the director of football before being released in 2013.
6 France: Stephane Guivarc’h
Who is Stephane Guivarc’h? Arguably the least famous player in the French 1998 World Cup squad, Guivarc’h was given a chance to start ahead of the young, but talented Thierry Henry, David Trezeguet and Robert Pires. Indeed, Aime Jacquet rolled another dice and came out victorious.
Guivarch broke out at French club Brest in 1989, but it was at Guingamp where he made a name for himself, scoring an audacious 68 goals in 110 games from 1991-95. He would flop in the Premier League, but would later transfer back to Auxerre in 1999 to score a modest 25 goals in 60 appearances.
5. Brazil: Bebeto
Known for his “rock the baby” celebration in the 1994 World Cup, Bebeto is regarded as one of best Brazilian players ever and appeared in three World Cups for his country 1990, 1994 (winner) and 1998 (where they lost to France in the final).
Unlike his fellow attackers, José Roberto Gama de Oliveira, known as Bebeto, never played for top flight European clubs in his 19-year career and played half of those years in his home country. His 39 goals for Brazil rank 6th all time behind Pele, Ronaldo, Romario, Zico and Neymar. Bebeto was appointed the America Football Club’s manager on December 16th, 2009, but was released on February 2010, due to a poor record.
4. France: Youri Djorkaeff
Before the 1998 World Cup, Djorkaeff was operating at Inter and his fine form with the Italian side earned him a place in the French squad. The Frenchman’s work rate was second to none as he helped France raise their first World Cup trophy.
After beginning his career with French club Grenoble in 1984, Djokaeff hit the zenith of his club career when he moved to AS Monaco in 1990, netting 59 goals in 155 appearances. He also had brief stints in Italy, Germany and England before landing with the Metrostars in 2005, where he played two seasons before his retirement on October 29, 2006.
3. Brazil: Rivaldo
Widely regarded as one of the best attacking midfielder ever, Rivaldo’s started out with Brazilian side Santa Cruz in 1991 before his breakthrough year with Deportivo La Coruna in 1996-97, producing 21 goals in 41 matches.
FC Barcelona acquired the Brazilian in 1997 and the Catalans triumphed in his first season, winning La Liga and the Copa del Rey. Rivaldo tallied 24 league goals in 1999, earning the FIFA Player of the year and the elusive Ballon d’Or.
The left-footed attacker hit the 1998 World Cup with a bang, scoring three goals while helping Brazil reach the final where Brazil suffered a 3-0 shock defeat to France. Though he was overshadowed by one of the finest players ever in Ronaldo, the pinnacle of Rivaldo’s career came in 2002, scoring in his first five games and ousting Germany 2-0 in the final.
2. France: Zinedine Zidane
His headers in the 1998 World Cup match against Brazil weren’t the last time Zizou used his head in the grandest stage.
Zinedine Zidane needs no introduction. Not only did he lead France to their first World Cup trophy on their home soil, but he was the driving force to the team’s Euro 2000 glory. After debuting for Cannes in 1989, Zidane moved to Bordeaux where he flourished before transferring to Italian giants Juventus in 1996.
Los Blancos then signed the Ballon d’Or winner in 2001 for a then-record fee of €77.5 million. The newest Galactico cemented his name in Real Madrid’s history book with his magisterial game-winning volley in the Champions League final against Bayer Leverkusen in 2001. He came out of retirement to lead France in the 2006 World Cup final, but lost in the penalty shootout to the Azzurri.
1. Brazil: Ronaldo
Ronaldo is regarded by many as the most complete striker of all time. Although he favored playing the forward position, Ronaldo was a threat anywhere on the pitch and his finishing technique was unmatched. Blessed with the ability to use both feet, Ronaldo was arguably the most skilled individual football had ever seen. Ronaldhino would dribble past defenders at a normal pace, while R9 left opponents in the dust while dribbling at full speed. A prime example of this is when he scissored past Alessandro Nesta in the 1998 UEFA Cup Final. He did it such a way that you felt for Nesta, who was a world-class defender.
In mere hours of the 1998 World Cup finals match, Ronaldo suffered a convulsive fit and it was reported the ferocious attacker would miss the biggest game of his career. Minutes before kick-off, the best player in the world confirmed to head coach Mario Zagallo he was fit to play. But El Fenomeno struggled as he sleepwalked through the final.
Four-years later, Ronaldo pushed Brazil to their fifth World Cup title against Oliver Kahn’s Germany side. The mercurial striker scored eight goals in the whole tournament
Years after his retirement, Ronaldo became a minority owner of NASL club Fort Lauderdale Strikers on December 2014.
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