The World Cup is down to its last two, with France and Croatia meeting in the final on Sunday afternoon. Les Bleus are in their third final in the last 20 years, while it’s a first for Croatia after knocking out England in the semi-finals.
Where and when: Luzhniki Stadium – 15 July, kick-off 4pm
Where you can see France vs. Croatia: BBC & ITV
Last time: It was a goalless draw when the teams played each other in a friendly back in 2011, so we hope for a livelier encounter at the weekend.
|Mbappe to score first||5/1||Offer|
|Both teams to score – no||8/13||Offer|
|France to win to nil||8/5||Offer|
France v Croatia Predictions and Preview
Croatia have never beaten France in five meetings between the countries, but there’s no better place to put that right than in the World Cup final. Les Bleus have looked impressive at Russia 2018 though, and they are going to provide a very stern test for the Zlatko Dalic’s side.
The Vatreni have played 90 minutes more football than France in the last couple of weeks, after all of their knockout games went to extra-time. Croatia progressed twice on penalties, and then beat England thanks to a Mario Mandzukic goal 10 minutes from the end of the additional period.
It was thought that fatigue could come into the equation in the semi-finals, but Croatia seemed to grow stronger as the game wore on. From half-time onwards, they were much the better side, but they can’t afford another slow start or this French team could be out of sight before they know it.
France are packed with pace and flair going forward, while Olivier Giroud also gives them an aerial presence. Didier Deschamps will have noted how England caused Croatia’s defence plenty of problems in the opening 45 minutes of their semi-final, and in players like Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann, he has the perfect tools for striking quickly at the heart of the Croatian back line.
In Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, the Vatreni have the players who can hold onto the ball in the middle of the park. They’ll need good performances from Ivan Rakitic and Ante Rebic out wide as well though, as France showed against Belgium that they’re comfortable sitting in and stopping talented playmakers.
Croatia will have to succeed where the likes of Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard couldn’t, and break France down if they want to win the match. Unless, of course, the game goes all the way to penalties without a goal, but let’s hope there’s more excitement than that. The game’s still likely to be low-scoring though, with only one of the last seven World Cup finals seeing both teams score.
France are the 10/11 favourites to win the game inside 90 minutes, while Croatia are 4/1. The draw leading to extra-time is 23/10, while you can back France to win by any method of victory at 5/11, with Croatia 23/12 for the same bet.
One to watch for France: Kylian Mbappe has set the World Cup alight at times, scoring three times on the way to the final. He is 5/1 to add to his tally with the first goal of the game.
One to watch for Croatia: Mario Mandzukic broke English hearts with his extra-time winner in the semi-final. The Juventus striker is a real handful, and is 10/1 to break the deadlock.
Long shot: Over 40% of the goals at this summer’s World Cup have come from set pieces. Samuel Umtiti scored the only goal of France’s semi-final victory over Belgium from a corner, and he’s 35/1 to open the scoring again.