Saturday, August 11, 2012
11 August 1984 - Les Bleus Claim L'Or
France had enjoyed more success in previous tournaments, claiming the silver medal in 1900 (albeit as one of only three participating teams). In 1908, France actually entered two teams, with one reaching the semifinals. An additional semifinal appearance followed in 1920, then they reached the quarterfinals in 1924, 1948, 1968, and 1976.
Brazil, on the other hand, did not participate in the Olympics until 1952. Though they made it to the quarterfinals that year, they suffered first-round exits in the next four tournaments. In 1976, they reached the quarterfinals again, losing to the Soviet Union.
Both teams missed the 1980 tournament in Moscow and showed up in 1984 eager to claim a medal. Brazil breezed through the group stage, winning all three of their games, then advanced to the final with victories over Canada (on penalties) and Italy (after extra time). France, meanwhile, topped their own group despite winning only one of the matches, then advanced over Egypt and Yugoslavia (on penalties).
Playing before a crowd of 101,799 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California, the teams finished the first half at 0-0, but that scoreline did not last much longer. In the 55th minute, Lens striker François Brisson put France up 1-0, then his fellow striker, Daniel Xuereb (pictured)--who also played for Lens--doubled the lead five minutes later. It was Xuereb's fifth goal of the tournament, tying him with two other players for top-scorer honors.
It was the last appearance in the final for France, but Brazil returned in 1988 and lost to the Soviet Union in extra time. They have again returned in 2012, where they will face Mexico.