2018 World Cup Final Preview: France vs Croatia

Posted by Derrick Harper on July 13, 2018 in

France and Croatia will meet Sunday in Moscow for the 2018 World Cup Final. After four years of waiting and then surviving six competitive matches, France and Croatia will play one match for the right to be world champion. Not surprisingly, France is the clear favorite at -200. However, Croatia wasn’t bothered by being an underdog in the semi-finals and they won’t mind being an underdog at +160 in the finals.

2018 World Cup Final Preview: France vs Croatia

France

As the second-youngest team when the tournament started, it shouldn’t be a surprise that it took Les Bleus some time to get things rolling. But as the tournament has gone along, France has always looked better than they did in their previous game. Against Belgium in the semi-finals, the French delivered a performance that was both professional and masterful.

They managed to stifle a side that has looked dangerous going forward throughout the tournament while patiently waiting for their chance to strike. Once France took the lead against Belgium, there was little doubt they would relinquish it, which is exactly what a world championship team looks like.

As expected, the key to France’s success has been in the midfield tandem or N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba. Soccer fans are accustomed to seeing Kante work tirelessly to do the dirty work in the midfield that gives his team the ball and protects his back line. But Pogba’s willingness to do the same has been both surprising and critical to France reaching the final.

The duo of Kante and Pogba in the midfield, along with a couple clutch saves from Hugo Lloris, is the biggest reason France hasn’t allowed a goal in back-to-back games. If that trend continues, they will be tough to beat in the final.

Croatia

Croatia reaching the final has been an exercise in endurance and determination. The Croatians have been forced to play 30 extra minutes in each of their last three games, enduring a penalty kick shootout in two of them. Alas, they are still standing and have survived long enough to battle France in the final.

Most of the team’s roster is part of a golden generation of talent in Croatia that has refused to let the dream of a world title die. With this being the first World Cup ever held in Eastern Europe, it could be fate that an Eastern European nation ends up winning the title.

Croatia is the underdog for the 2018 World Cup Final against Francia.

If Croatia is going to surprise the world yet again, their midfield duo of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic will have to win the battle against Pogba and Kante. This is a matchup of two savvy veterans in Modric (playing in his fourth World Cup) and Rakitic against the young duo of Pogba and Kante.

In just about every game of this tournament, Modric has seized control for Croatia when it has mattered most. That will be easier said than done against France. But it’s tough to bet against Modric at this point, as he’s arguably been the best player in the tournament.

Prediction

If you’re expecting the final to be a wide-open, entertaining game, think again. Both teams will be tactical, clinical, and above all else, careful. In the end, France has a little more talent and a few more potential match-winners on its roster than Croatia. France wins the 2018 World Cup Final 1-0.