World Cup 2018 Early Guide for France vs. Croatia Final

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France will meet Croatia in the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Sunday. The Blazers reached the final by beating England 2-1 after extra time in the last four on Wednesday, one day after Les Bleus beat Belgium 1-0.

For France, it’s a third final, but a first since 2006. Meanwhile, Croatia have reached the first World Cup final in their history, bettering a loss to the hosts in the last four at France ’98.

Date: Sunday, July 15

Time: 6 p.m. local time (4 p.m. BST/11 a.m. ET)

TV Info: BBC One, ITV 1, Fox

Live Stream: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Fox Soccer MatchPass, fuboTV

Both sides will arrive in the Russian capital knowing they have goals in them thanks to talented and gifted forward lines. The France attack is all about pace, power and movement thanks to the complementary trio of Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe.

Griezmann and Mbappe are able to stretch defences, and both have an excellent understanding of space and how to take up dangerous positions. While Grizemann is a proven source of goals, Mbappe is a burgeoning global star whose threat grows with every match.

Mbappe didn’t score against Belgium, but he proved a constant menace with his runs from the right flank and a keen eye for a pass:

Kylian Mbappe: Created more clear-cut goal scoring opportunities vs Belgium (3) than any other player has managed in a match
France’s speed and intuition up top are ably supported by an industrious and balanced midfield. It’s a group containing the destructive tendencies of N’Golo Kante, the energy of Blaise Matuidi and the natural flair of Paul Pogba.

This trio not only ensures Les Bleus maintain a consistent threat on the break. They also shield a back four that’s led by imposing centre-backs Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti, with the former looking increasingly impressive:

Breaking down this talented a defence is a daunting task, but Croatia have the ingenuity in midfield to create chances against anybody. Possession runs through Luka Modric, who is the conductor between holding player Marcelo Brozovic and skilled box-to-box dynamo Ivan Rakitic.

All three are comfortable on the ball and able to release gifted and versatile winger Ivan Perisic, who scored the Blazers’ first against England:

Perisic’s pace and range of movement make him the ideal foil for the physical presence and aerial dominance of Mario Mandzukic. The latter also got on the scoresheet against the Three Lions and continues to defy the odds after being overlooked by some of football’s most high-profile managers:
Mandzukic and Perisic provide a cutting edge for Croatia, but the game runs through Modric. He can expect to receive close attention from Kante, while Matuidi will likely be tasked with tracking the runs of Rakitic.

Modric won’t find the kind of space he enjoyed against England, so France should gradually overpower Croatia and let their match-winners up top decide things.

MORE ON THE FRANCE NATIONAL FOOTBALL TEAM 

@equipedefrance

The France national football team represents France in international football and is controlled by the French Football Federation, also known as FFF, or in French: Fédération française de football. The team’s colours are blue, white and red, and the coq gaulois its symbol. France are colloquially known as Les Bleus(The Blues).

France play home matches at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, Paris, and the manager is Didier Deschamps. They have won one FIFA World Cup, two UEFA European Championships, an Olympic tournament, and two FIFA Confederations Cups. France experienced much of its success in three major eras: in the 1950s, 1980s, and late 1990s/early 2000s respectively, which resulted in numerous major honours. France was one of the four European teams that participated in the inaugural World Cup in 1930 and, although having been eliminated in the qualification stage six times, is one of only three teams that have entered every World Cup qualifying cycle.

In 1958, the team, led by Raymond Kopa and Just Fontaine, finished in third place at the FIFA World Cup. In 1984, France, led by Ballon d’Or winner Michel Platini, won UEFA Euro 1984.

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Under the leadership of Didier Deschamps and three-time FIFA World Player of the Year Zinedine Zidane, France won the FIFA World Cup in 1998. Two years later, the team triumphed at UEFA Euro 2000. France won the FIFA Confederations Cup in 2001 and 2003, and reached the 2006 FIFA World Cup final, which it lost 5–3 on penalties toItaly. The team also reached the final of UEFA Euro 2016, where they lost 1–0 to Portugal football in extra time. France have now reached the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where they will play Croatia with the final match on 15 July 2018.

France was the first national team that has won the three most important men’s titles recognized by FIFA: the World Cup, the Confederations Cup, and the Olympic tournament after victory in the Confederations Cup in 2001. Since 2001,Argentina (after 2004 Olympics) and Brazil (after 2016 Olympics) are the other two national teams that have won these three titles. They have also won their respective continental championship (Copa América for Argentina and Brazil, and UEFA European Championship for France).

MORE ON THE CROATIA FOOTBALL TEAM 

@HNS_CFF

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The Croatia national football team (Croatian: Hrvatska nogometna reprezentacija) represents Croatia in international football. The team is controlled by the Croatian Football Federation, the nation’s governing body of football. A FIFA-sanctioned national side previously represented the short-lived Banovina of Croatia and Independent State of Croatia in nineteen friendly matches between 1940 and 1944. This team was dissolved in 1945 as Croatia became a constituent federal republic of SFR Yugoslavia and was thus ineligible to field a separate team for competitive matches. Up until 1990, local players instead played for the Yugoslavia national football team.

The modern Croatian team was formed in 1990, shortly before the nation’s independence from Yugoslavia, and by 1993 was recognized by both FIFA and UEFA. The team played its first competitive matches in the successful qualifying campaign for Euro 1996, leading to its first appearance at a major tournament. Led by their first “Golden Generation”, Croatia’s FIFA World Cup debut in 1998 garnered a third place finish and provided the tournament’s top scorer, Davor Šuker. Twenty years later, anchored by their second “Golden Generation”, Croatia reached the 2018 World Cup finals. Similarly to Croatia’s final match in 1998, the team is set to once again play France on July 15. Since becoming eligible to compete in international tournaments, Croatia has failed to qualify for only one World Cup (in 2010) and one European Championship (in 2000).

Most home matches are played at the Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb, with some fixtures also taking place at the Poljud Stadium in Split or at other smaller venues, such as Kantrida Stadium in Rijeka or Gradski Vrt in Osijek. The team was undefeated in its first 36 competitive home matches at Maksimir, the run ending with a heavy defeat to England in September 2008. The team’s traditional nickname is Vatreni (“The Blazers”).

Croatia was named FIFA’s “Best Mover of the Year” in 1994 and 1998, the only team—along with Colombia—to win the award more than once. Upon admission to FIFA, Croatia was ranked 125th in the world; following the 1998 World Cup campaign, the side rose to third place in the rankings, making it the most volatile team in FIFA Rankings history.

2018 Golden Boot Race

Golden Boot goal tracker of the top scorers at the World Cup

The Golden Boot is is the name of the award presented to the player who scores the most goals in the World Cup. Harry Kane is the current leader with 6 goals. Each team still has one more game left to play. It is possible that Lukaku, Griezmann and Mbappe could catch him. The race is not over yet. Our friends at CBS Sports have Golden Boot odds for betting on who may win the top scorer award.

  1. Harry Kane (ENG) – 6 goals
  2. Romelu Lukaku (BEL) – 4 goals
  3. Cristiano Ronaldo (POR) – 4 goals
  4. Denis Cheryshev (RUS) – 4 goals
  5. Antoine Griezmann (FRA) – 3 goals
  6. Kylian Mbappe (FRA) – 3 goals