France vs Croatia / World Cup (finals) – After they have in the last month showed most of all the teams that performed this year at the World Cup in Russia, the teams of France and Croatia will on Sunday at Luzhnik stadium in Moscow, fight for the title of a new world champions. And while this is the second consecutive performance in the finals of some big competition for the French, because they were two years ago defeated by Portugal at home in a decisive match of the European championship, this is by far the biggest success for the team of Croatia, since they are performing as an independent state at FIFA and in UEFA competitions. However, it is interesting that the Croatians have achieved their best result at the World Cup in 1998 in France, when they were defeated in the semi-finals by their hosts, after which they won the third place thanks to a victory over Netherlands, while the French, on the other hand, defeated Brazil in the finals and thus came to their first and only title of the world championships. After that, these two teams met four times, with the proviso that the French recorded two wins and a draw in their friendly matches, while their group stage match in the European Championship in 2004 ended with 2-2. France vs Croatia begins: 15.07.2018. – 17:00 CET
This in fact means that the team of France still has not lost to Croatia, so on that side they certainly apply for the favourites in this final match of the World Cup in Russia. In addition, the popular French have already mastered three very strong teams in this championship, first the current world champion Argentina with 4-3 in the round of sixteen, then the double world champion Uruguay with 2-0 in the quarterfinals, and also their big rival and neighbour, Belgium, with 1-0 in the semi-finals. Previously, they have also in the group stage routinely came to the victory over Australia and Peru and then a draw with Denmark in the last third round, when that result took both teams to the round of sixteen.
But what we have to point out most is that the French have achieved 10 and received 4 goals in their past six performances, out of which even three in their duel with Argentina, which they after a big turnover eventually defeated with 4-3. After that, they played much better in defence in their duels with Uruguay and Belgium, because they managed to keep their net intact on both occasions, and it is interesting to note that the goals were scored by center-backs Varane and Umtiti from the free-throws, and one was added by Griezmann. However, for the moment, the 19-year-old striker Mbappe, who was the key figure in the match with Argentina, is now the first star of this team, so we certainly expect him to shine to in this match with Croatia. We should also add that coach Deschamps will probably send the same starting lineup to the field at Luzhnik on Sunday as he did in the semi-final match with the Belgians.
Probable lineups France: Lloris – Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez – Pogba, Kante – Mbappe, Griezmann, Matuidi – Giroud
And while the French were ranked among the biggest favourites even before the World Cup in Russia, we can freely say that Croatia was not anticipated to make it very far, especially to play the final match for the title of world champions. As well all know, this team, from the already mentioned World Cup in 1998, where they won the third place, has never managed to pass even a group stage at the previous World Cups, so that was certainly their main goal at this competition. However, young coach Dalic has obviously believed in his team, who he first routinely took to the World Cup through the playoffs, and then in a fairly peaceful atmosphere, slowly prepared for their performance in Russia, where they have played really great and quite deservedly came to this decisive match.
However, we have to point out that the Croatians had a very tough and thorny journey to the finals, because they had to play extensions in all the matches of the knockout stage, while their matches in the round of sixteen against Denmark and in the quarterfinals against Russia, were decided after penalties. As for the semi-final match against England, they managed to defeat them in extra time, thanks to Mandzukic's goal in 109th minute of the match, while we still have to add that the Croatians returned after a result minus in all three matches of the knockout stage, so they have certainly shown the greatest mental strength of all teams in this World Cup. However, they are now facing an extremely difficult task in the finals against a very powerful, but also a lot more rested France, which means that coach Dalic’s players, besides the great fight and dedication, will certainly need a lot of luck this time to pass the last obstacle for the very top of the world.
Probable lineups Croatia: Subasic – Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic – Rakitic, Brozovic – Rebic, Modric, Perisic – Mandzukic
France vs Croatia PICK
By fully respecting all they have done so far in Russia, we still believe that the team of Croatia has a very small chance to avoid defeat in their first appearance in the World Cup finals, primarily because they are far more tired than coach Deschamps’ team, which, in addition to all this, has more experience in these decisive matches.
Pick: France wins
Odds: 1.95 at williamhill (down to 1.85 can be played)