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When France steps on the pitch Sunday in the 2022 World Cup final vs. Argentina, they will try to become back-to-back World Cup winners. This is an incredibly rare feat in soccer that hasn’t been accomplished often and hasn’t happened in a long time. Here is everything you need to know about the France quest to become back-to-back World Cup winners and the teams that have done it before them.  

France tries to become first back-to-back World Cup winners in 60 years

Winning the 2018 World Cup title in Russia, France became the third country to win two titles, joining Argentina (1978, 1986) and Uruguay (1930, 1950). That puts them in a tie for fourth-most all-time, behind Brazil (1958, 1962, 1970, 1994, 2002), Italy (1934, 1938, 1982, 2006), and Germany (1954, 1974, 1990, 2014).

Behind these countries, there are two nations — England (1966) and Spain (2010) which have one trophy.

One of the interesting things about this France run is that the success of the European nation is more recent than any of these other soccer powers. Unlike Uruguay, which hasn’t won in over 70 years, or Germany, which won its first three titles as West Germany, France won its first less than 25 years ago (1998) and has continuing dominance today.

If the team can beat Lionel Messi and Argentina in the 2022 World Cup final, it will be the first time in more than a half-century a team goes back-to-back in the world’s biggest soccer tournament.

How many countries have won back-to-back World Cups?

If France becomes back-to-back World Cup winners, it will join the 1958 and 1962 Brazil squads and the 1934 and 1938 Italy teams as the only teams to win consecutive World Cups.

The French triumph would be more impressive than either Italy or Brazil’s accomplishment, as all those tournaments featured fields of 16 teams or fewer, while France has had to battle 32 teams in all three of its World Cup wins.

Individually, a second World Cup win would elevate French forward Kylian Mbappe into rarified air, with Italian star Giuseppe Meazza and Brazil’s all-time great, Pele.

Now we’ll look at how the previous back-to-back World Cup winners’ path to history played out.

Back-to-back World Cup champs’ path to glory 

back-to-back world cup winners, world cup final, france, brazil, italy
Players from France celebrate the 2018 World Cup title | Thiago Bernardes/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

Group Stages

In 1934 and 1938, the World Cup featured 16 teams and a single-elimination knockout stage. So, the back-to-back World Cup winners from Italy didn’t have to face a Group Stage.

In 1958 and 1962, Brazil did face a four-team Group Stage. However, with just 16 teams in the tournament, the winners and second-place teams of each group advanced right to the quarterfinals. Here’s what the Group stage looked like:

HostYearGroupGame 1Game 2Game 3Place
Sweden195843-0 vs. Austria0-0 vs. England2-0 vs. Soviet Union1st
Chile196232-0 vs. Mexico0-0 vs. Czechoslovakia2-1 vs. Spain1st

And here’s the path for the 2018 and 2022 France squads:

HostYearGroupGame 1Game 2Game 3Place
Russia2018C2-1 vs. Australia1-0 vs. Peru0-0 vs. Denmark1st
Qatar2022D4-1 vs. Australia2-0 vs. Denmark0-1 vs. Tunisia1st

Knockout Rounds

Once the Group Stages ended (or the tournament began for Italy), the tames moved to the knockout rounds. Here are the various paths these teams took to become back-to-back World Cup winners.

Italy’s tournaments in the 1930s looked like this:

HostYearRound of 16  QuarterfinalsSemifinalsFinal
Italy19347-1 vs. USA1-1 (1-0 pen.) vs. Spain1-0 vs. Austria2-1 vs. Czechoslovakia
France19382-1 (a.e.t) vs. Norway3-1 vs. France2-1 vs. Brazil4-2 vs. Hungary

Twenty years later, here is what Brazil’s paths were:

HostYearRound of 16  QuarterfinalsSemifinalsFinal
Sweden1958N/A1-0 vs. Wales5-2 vs. France5-2 vs. Sweden
Chile1962N/A3-1 vs. England4-2 vs. Chile3-1 vs. Czechoslovakia

And 60 years after that, here is what France’s path will be if they can get the job done and become the third back-to-back World Cup winners:

HostYearRound of 16  QuarterfinalsSemifinalsFinal
Russia20184-3 vs. Argentina2-0 vs. Uruguay1-0 vs. Belgium4-2 vs. Croatia
Qatar20223-1 vs. Poland2-1 vs. England2-0 vs. Morocco??? vs. Argentina

Top scorers

And here are the top scorers for each of these legendary teams and how many goals they scored in each tournament.

  • 1934: Angelo Schiavio, 4 goals; Raimundo Orsi, 3 goals
  • 1938: Silvio Piola, 5 goals; Gino Colaussi, 4 goals
  • 1958: Pele, 6 goals; Vava, 5 goals
  • 1962: Garrincha, Vavá, 4 goals
  • 2018: Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, 4 goals
  • 2022: Kylian Mbappe 5 goals; Olivier Giroud, 4 goals (and counting)

One note here is that Pele went out after the second game of the 1962 World Cup with an injury and didn’t return for the rest of the tournament, which is why he isn’t among the top goal-scorers that year.

Will France repeat as champions?


The Kylian Mbappe-Lionel Messi World Cup Final Isn’t the 1st Time Superstar Club Teammates Have Gone Head-to-Head

So, the question becomes, can the 2022 France squad write its name in the history books as the third back-to-back World Cup winners?

With Kylian Mbappe on the team, it is absolutely possible. At just 23, he is already putting himself in position to be in the conversation with Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo, Brazil’s Ronaldo, Diego Maradona, and Pele as the greatest player of all time.

However, as history shows, it is so, so hard to become back-to-back World Cup winners. Great teams from Germany, Argentina, Brazil, and Uruguay failed to do this. A simple mistake or bad bounce of the ball can cost a team a match in a heartbeat, and playing 14 perfect games in four years seems nearly impossible.

In 2022, on the other side of the ball is Lionel Messi. The GOAT candidate has accomplished nearly everything a player can in football, except for winning a World Cup. And this time around, he is surrounded by hungry young players who are playing excellently in this tournament.

While France can become back-to-back World Cup winners, my prediction is that they won’t, and Argentina will lift the trophy this time.