The younger generation in France are now experiencing the same emotion as we felt 20 years ago. When they won against Belgium in the semi-final on Tuesday, it was huge here.
I was leaving work, driving my motorbike and all the streets of Paris were full of people.
Black, white, Arabic, rich, poor, it didn’t matter – everyone was celebrating altogether, they were so happy. When I was watching them, I was thinking, ‘This is football, only football can do that to society’. It can unite everyone.
As a player, you need to bring fans emotion and that is exactly what this team are doing.
As for the action on the field in Russia, this French team is more talented than we were. Individually they have more options, especially up front, but there are also lots of similarities.
The fact that Olivier Giroud hasn’t scored reminds me of Stephane Guivarc’h.
Guivarc’h didn’t score at all and he had so many chances to score, the same as Giroud. There are similarities as well with the defenders scoring.
Benjamin Pavard scored, like Lilian Thuram did for us against Croatia. Raphael Varane scored, like Laurent Blanc against Paraguay.
When you have so many coincidences, you cannot call them coincidences any more.
It’s like it’s written, I think it’s meant to be. I believe they are going to win the World Cup.
Last Thursday it was the 20th anniversary of our final, what we did was all over the TV in France and I was crying in front of the TV because it reminded me of all the emotions. I was so proud of what I was watching.
So, I can understand very well how the players are feeling at the moment.
I saw the press conferences of the French players on Friday and they looked so relaxed.
This is the dream of their lifetime. This day on Sunday can change their life forever.
Didier Deschamps is a workaholic. This guy is dedicated for football. He lives, breathes and sleeps for football.
He took big decisions before the World Cup and has taken big ones during it.
Playing Pavard and Lucas Hernandez as the full-backs was a big surprise and everyone was asking, ‘Does he know what he is doing?’
But those players are now playing every single game and doing very well. Didier knows exactly what to do to win games, what kind of players to pick and what system to use.
He was looking for the perfect system for his players and he has found it.
The players have improved and so has the team as a whole – that is the work of the manager.
I’m also pretty sure the next World Cup will be even better for the French team.
They are so young and talented, they still have a lot to improve and they will become more and more difficult to beat.
Mbappe can be Henry-like
Kylian Mbappe can fight for the Ballon d’Or within the next three years. What he is doing is amazing at his age.
With his maturity and the way he plays on the pitch, you’d think he’d already been playing at the highest level for ten years, but it’s only been the last two seasons.
Just think how good he could be in ten years’ time!
He can improve so much. This guy has got no limits at all, e is not afraid of anything and Mbappe reminds me of Thierry Henry.
In 1998, Thierry was 20 and he scored three goals at the World Cup like Mbappe has. They have very big similarities – they are young, talented, fast and take responsibility.
Before the tournament, Paul Pogba wanted to be leader of the team, but the leader of the team is becoming Mbappe.
Be cautious about Croatia
This game is revenge for Croatia for 20 years ago and it is a huge achievement for this small country to get to the final.
I love their team. The way they play, especially in midfield with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. But, they have got talent as well in Ante Rebic, Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic.
They also have a strong defence and a good goalkeeper. Croatia are very talented technically, tactically and they have a great mentality.
You could see that in the last three games, they have been to extra-time, to penalty kicks, but this team never gives up, they fight until the end.
That is the difference with the French team because we are young. We only have six players in the squad who played in the World Cup in Brazil and only nine who played at Euro 2016.
This turnover is not helping the team because you have to build all over again.
The final won’t be easy for the French team, but if they keep on doing what they are doing we have the strength to win this final.
If Kante can keep Modric quiet, then we have a great chance. I am predicting us to win 2-1.
* Emmanuel Petit was in conversation with David Coverdale of the Sun.