France has been to three finals over the last six World Cups. France now stands in the way of Croatia’s pursuit of winning an elusive first World Cup title. France stood in the way of Croatia in the 1998 semifinal and wound up winning its first World Cup title on home soil that year.
If either one of these teams is going to score three to four goals in a match, France is the more likely option. The team has so much offensive firepower with players like Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe up front, and N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba in the midfield. It’s a terrific blend of youth, experience, speed and strength.
On the other hand, it’s the underdog against the favourite, and all signs point to France winning. France is well rested, it’s had some stiff tests in the knockout stage, and it has a guy in N’Golo Kante to take care of Luka Modric. If France is cautious at the back and plays the ball out quickly, combined with what it has in the final third, it should win.
The French players to keep eyes on are many, but right now the hottest name is France’s Kylian Mbappe. He’s only 19 years old, but he’s scored three goals in the World Cup (Antoine Griezmann also has three goals for France). He can essentially serve as a one-person fast break for the French. Think of him as a bit like the NBA’s Russell Westbrook. He’s very dangerous in transition, as he can fly down the field quickly.
France takes the early lead on an Antoine Griezmann goal and controls the possession of the game, but Croatia scores in the final minute of regulation on a VAR assisted penalty kick scored by Luka Modric to send it to extra time, Croatia’s fourth consecutive extra-time affair in the knockout stage. Danijel Subasic is the hero again and Croatia wins on penalties to capture an unprecedented World Cup title.
However, Croatia has been like Cinderella this entire tournament, but it’s going to come to an end in the final. This final will be the beginning of what should be a strong run for France on the international scene the next few years.
France boasts the more talented starting XI to begin with and then there’s the fact that Croatia’s legs might be dead. Croatia’s last three matches have gone to extra time while France gets the benefit of an extra day of rest before the final. Croatia is a special team doing special things to this point, but it’ll be hard pressed to find a way to penetrate France’s defense. Expect France to get the goal it needs and then dictate the rest of the game. Don’t expect a blowout, but expect France to control this one and turn a 1-0 game into a bit of a boring affair.
It is true that Croatia’s best player would be Luka Modric. Although he’s more than capable of scoring goals (he has two in the tournament), that’s not ultimately his purpose. He’s not a goal scorer as much as he’s a goal creator. He’s the guy who has the ball at his feet most of the time when Croatia’s looking to create a scoring chance because he’s the best at creating the space for his teammates to operate by dribbling the ball into dangerous areas. If Kylian Mbappe is Russell Westbrook, Luka Modric is Chris Paul.
Let the best team win. Viva La FIFA, Viva La diversity!