(Image Courtesy: Nigeria News)
The day everyone was waiting for has finally arrived. Today is the day where one of the countries will be crowned the champions of the world. Tournament favorites France will take on the competition’s dark horses Croatia in the all important FIFA World Cup finals tonight. Didier Deschamps,who captained France to their title in 1998 will once again look to lead their side to another title this time being the coach.
At the beginning of the tournament it was expected that the heavy weight teams such as Germany, Brazil and Argentina will make it to the last 4. But surprising everyone they bowed out earlier than expected. It was one of the reasons why this world cup was the most exciting one in recent times.
France who last won the world cup in 1998 started the tournament as one of the favorites. They were placed in a group that had Australia, Peru and Denmark. With relatively easy opponents everyone expected France to get off to a flying start.
Contradicting to that France got off to an average start. They went on to beat both Peru and Australia bagging the top spot but the performance levels were so low. Their poor display was once again seen when they played out a dull draw vs Denmark.
They were then drawn against Argentina to play the round of 16. Sampaoli’s men too had a average start to the tournament finishing second in their group. So it was interesting to see which team would go through. But the France Football Team started going all guns blazing in the match.
Peaking at the right time of the tournament, they went on to score 4 past Argentina with Mbappe starring in the win. Quarter finals saw them face off another South American team in the form of Uruguay. Having lost Canavi due to injury before the game, they couldn’t match France’s power eventually losing 2-0 to Les Bleus.
Meanwhile, their opponents Croatia had gone through to the round of 16 winning all their matches and topping their group. The teams performance came to limelight when they beat Argentina 3-0.
Round of 16 saw them face Denmark. With match going into penalties, Monaco keeper Danijel Subasic saved 3 penalties to see them through to the next round. They once again had to face off Russia in the penalties after the thrilling 2-2 draw after extra time. Subasic once again became the hero leading his side to the semis.
France were drawn against heavyweights Belgium while Croatia were drawn against another surprise team in the form of England. Potentially being tipped as the match of the tournament France took on Belgium which was expected to be a thriller.
But it turned out to be lacking in the goal fest with both the defenses keeping out both their attackers. Samuel’s Umtiti’s header turned out to be the decisive goal as France went on to beat Belgium 1-0.
Croatia on the other hand once again taken the match into extra time after the score was 1-1 after 90 minutes. Mario Mandzukic then scored the winner in extra time to lead Croatia to their first finals.
Thus today’s finals is expected to be decided in the midfield. Croatia have one of the world’s best midfield with the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Ivan Rakitic who have won number of trophies between them in club level. Behind them they have a solid pair of Lovren and Vida who have had a superb campaign. Goal Keeper Subasic has arguably been the tournament’s best shot stopper.
France on the other hand will rely on their forward line of Griezmann, Mbappe and Giroud to make the bulk of the impact. Also they will hope to match Croatia’s midfield with the likes of Paul Pogba and N’golo Kante.
With a blockbuster of a match expected, it will be interesting to see how both the teams look to approach the game. France will look to play their counter attack card to break the opponent’s defense while Croatia will look to build up play from their Midfield.
The Probable Lineups for the match is as follows:
Croatia XI: Subasic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Pivaric; Brozovic, Rakitic, Modric, Perisic, Rebic; Mandzukic.
France XI: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Pogba, Kante, Matuidi, Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud.
The match is set to begin at 8.30PM IST with telecast on Sony Ten 2, Sony Ten 3 and Sony ESPN.
Let us know who you guys think will be the winner of the match in the comments below.