Preview - France vs Croatia 16 July 18

Started by Harry85, Jul 13, 2018, 01:31 PM

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World Cup Final
France vs Croatia
Monday, July 16th, 2018
20:00am, (GMT +8 Timing)
Stadium: Luzhniki Stadium

Last five matches form: W D W W W
Average goals per match last ten: 1.90
Average goals against per match last ten: 0.70
Top Scorer: Olivier Giroud (31)

Last five matches form: W W D D D
Average goals per match last ten:  1.50
Average goals against per match last ten: 1.00
Top Scorer: Mario Mandžukić (32)

And so to the big one. The biggest game in World football, bar none, as France meet Croatia in the World Cup Final.

This will be the third visit to the final for France who won it all on home soil in 1998 before losing on penalties to Italy in 2006.

Croatia make the final for the first time, with their previous best coming when third on their World Cup debut in 1998.

This will be the sixth meeting between the sides, with the previous five resulting in three wins for France and two draws. What a time this would be for Croatia to register a first success against les bleus.

Croatia have certainly done this the hard way, needing penalties to see off both Denmark and Russia and going to extra time against England. That's three consecutive 120+ minute outings now for one of the older sides in the competition. Perhaps fatigue will set in at some stage - and there were a couple of players struggling with cramp in the semi-final - but this is the World Cup Final after all and we expect the players will have one last big effort in them.

Other than the goal-fest against Argentina, France's performances have been pretty similar so far. Be it against Peru in the Group stages or Belgium in the semi-final, they have relied on a solid base and counted on the likes of Griezmann and Mbappé to provide the match winning moment at the other end of the pitch.

It would be wonderful to see a nation of the size of Croatia get their hands on the trophy, and with their stellar midfield they will always have a chance. They can take heart from the fact that France went into their most recent major final against Portugal in the European Championships as heavy favourites, only to lose.

Overall though we just favour France. Kylian Mbappé looks a player born to shine on the biggest stage of all, and his pace and trickery are expected to cause all manner of problems for this heroic but aging and tiring Croatia defence

Prediction: France 2 - 1 Croatia


Half time: 2 - 1
Full time: 4 - 2
Shots: 10 - 15
Shots on target: 10 - 6
Corner Kicks: 2 - 6
Possession: 34% - 66%

Nestor Pitana booked three in the final, taking the names of N'Golo Kante and Lucas Hernandez for France and Sime Vrsaljko for Croatia.

It was Croatia's Mario Mandžukić who struck first in the big one. Unfortunately for the big man it was at the wrong end. The Juventus front man inadvertently flicking an Antoine Griezmann freekick past his own keeper after 18 minutes.

The lead was to last only ten minutes though. A spot of head tennis following a Croatian free kick this time seeing the ball drop to Ivan Perisic just inside the area. Excellent first touch from Perisic to buy himself some space to unleash a left foot volley into the bottom right corner.

Then came the games real moment of controversy. A Griezmann corner from the left being flicked on by Blaise Matuidi and striking the hand of Perisic. Quite how much Perisic knew about it is open to some debate, but the referee cared not and upon consultation with VAR pointed to the spot. Griezmann stepping up to calmly convert into the bottom left corner.

Croatia had been much the better side in the opening period and yet found themselves going in a goal down at the break.

Croatia's already difficult task soon began to look impossible in the second half. Having played in Mbappé down the right, Paul Pogba found the ball make its way back to him on the edge of the area. His first strike with his right was well blocked but he followed up with a curling left foot effort into the left of the goal in the 59th minute.

Three became four just six minutes later. Mbappé allowed time and space to line up a shot around 25 yards from goal. One rifled shot into the bottom left later and this one was all over.

Croatia did get one back in the 69th minute. Hugo Lloris showing why he plays in goal and not outfield when attempting to beat Mandžukić with a trick inside his own six yard box. Mandžukić sticking out a leg to block the ball into the net.

That's as close as they got though as France effectively shut up shop for the remainder of the game.
A greatest ever World Cup Finals finish for Croatia.

But it is FRANCE who are your World Cup Champions for 2018.

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