The best from 1998
It's hard to believe the 1998 World Cup was 20 years ago, with such iconic moments as Zinedine Zidane's brace in the final, Romania's blond hair and Ronaldo destroying everything in his path still so vivid in the collective footballing memory. But who were the stars in France? We've picked out the top 10...
10. Zinedine Zidane (France)
Zidane’s decisive contribution in the final of France ‘98 – two goals, both headers from corners – has given the impression that this was his tournament. The reality is that he was much better at Euro 2000, despite the pivotal role he played against Brazil in the Stade de France showpiece.
Zidane was subdued in both the quarter and semi-finals, but he did provide an assist for Christophe Dugarry in France’s opening match against South Africa and played an important part in Thierry Henry’s opener against Saudi Arabia.
9. Dunga (Brazil)
Many younger readers will only know Dunga from his time in the dugout, but his biggest influence on the Brazilian game came during his playing days. After helping the Selecaoto World Cup glory in 1994, the midfielder - now captain - almost repeated the feat four years later in France.
Dunga kept his cool in the semi-final against the Netherlands, when his experience was key to the holders' victory - not least when he coolly converted in the penalty shoot-out. He continually brought out the best in those around him and was always willing to sacrifice himself for the team.
8. Edgar Davids (Netherlands)
Davids had clashed with coach Guus Hiddink at Euro ’96, the midfielder telling the Netherlands boss that he needed to “take his head out of the arses of certain players.” Fortunately for the Oranje – and the rest of us – the pair made up before the World Cup and Davids was able to demonstrate his talents on the biggest stage of all.
A string of selfless showings from the energetic midfielder helped the Dutch reach the last four, with his all-action running creating space for others to create. That isn't to say he offered nothing in possession, though; Davids was an excellent footballer, as his last-minute goal against Yugoslavia showed.
7. Juan Sebastian Veron (Argentina)
Despite his struggles at Manchester United and Chelsea, Veron was a midfielder of exceptional quality. His superlative vision and passing ability were on show throughout the 1998 World Cup, with Argentina deploying him in a deeper midfield role on their way to the quarter-finals.
Veron's one-two with Diego Simeone to lay on Ariel Ortega’s first goal against Jamaica was magnificent, as was the invention that saw him take a short free-kick to Javier Zanetti in the second-round game against England. His best assist, though, came against the Dutch – a sumptuous long pass to Claudio Lopez.
6. Christian Vieri (Italy)
Vieri was at his very best at France ’98, showcasing the unplayable combination of power and technique which allowed him to beat defenders with either sublime skill or brute force. Nowhere was this better demonstrated than against Cameroon, when the striker scored twice - one a delicate, chipped finish, the other a bustling example of opportunism.
He also scored the opener against Chile and powered home a header to give Italy the lead against Austria, before netting in the last-16 tie with Norway. Vieiri later converted his penalty in the quarter-final shoot-out with France, but the hosts held their nerve to advance to the final four.
5. Dennis Bergkamp (Netherlands)
Bergkamp’s last-minute winner against Argentina will live forever alongside the best goals the World Cup has seen. The touch to control Frank de Boer’s long pass, the turn inside Roberto Ayala and the side-foot finish high into the top corner were all sensational.
That wasn't the Arsenal man's only contribution in France, however. He set up Patrick Kluivert's opener in that game against the Argentines and provided steely intelligence and creativity throughout the Dutch's campaign.
4. Marcel Desailly (France)
Desailly’s red card midway through the second half of the final for a late challenge on Cafu against Brazil ultimately didn’t matter – indeed, France further extended their advantage with a stoppage-time goal from Emmanuel Petit.
That incident shouldn't detract from the defender's wonderful tournament, either. Desailly was a behemoth throughout the campaign, a study in consistency and composure alongside Laurent Blanc - and with no little toughness thrown in for good measure.
3. Davor Suker (Croatia)
Croatia were an excellent side who boasted the midfield talents of Zvonimir Boban and Robert Prosinecki, but it was the goals of Suker that carried them to the semi-finals and ultimately a third-place finish.
Suker was the ultimate poacher who did his best work inside the penalty area, although he occasionally drifted wide and dropped deep to the link the play. A sensational finisher, he found the net six times to win the Golden Boot ahead of Christian Vieiri and Gabriel Batistuta.
2. Ronaldo (Brazil)
Ronaldo was sensational in 1998, as close to the perfect No.9 as the game has ever seen. Had he been fit for the final, the outcome may have been very different, but a convulsion suffered on the eve of the game meant the striker was a shadow of his usual self.
He was still right up there with the best the tournament had to offer, though, scoring once in the group phase and bursting into life thereafter. Ronaldo netted twice against Chile in the round of 16 and set up two in the victory over Denmark in the quarters, before scoring Brazil's only goal - and a penalty in the shoot-out - against the Netherlands in the last four.
1. Lilian Thuram (France)
France's solid defence was the key to their victory on home soil in 1998, and Thuram was the pick of the bunch in an excellent Les Bleus rearguard. He and Bixente Lizarazu provided attacking width without ever really getting caught out behind them, a lesson from which many modern-day full-backs could learn.
His performance in the semi-final against Croatia was one for the ages. Thuram didn't score in his other 141 games for France, but on that occasion he popped up with two goals to send his country through to the final.
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