Once every four years, the world stops to watch a game of football. That day has finally arrived. The finals of the FIFA World Cup 2018 will be underway in the Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, tomorrow. The finals will be played between France and Croatia.
This is a World Cup that has been extremely unpredictable so far. The twists and turns were all inexplicable and unanticipated. This unforeseeable road has led us to this day when two nations face off against each other with everything at stake. Let’s take a look at the sides and their journey to the top of the ladder.
France were one of the favourites to reach the finals but no one really gave them a chance over the likes of Brazil or Spain. France have beaten the very best to reach here. They scored 4 goals past Argentina and also beat a rampant Belgium in the semi-finals. They have some amazing players with Mbappe being the standout player for me. Umtiti and Varane are the new-look Ramos and Pique with their hustle-bustle and flamboyance complementing each other very smoothly. In front of them, Pogba and Kante have formed a formidable partnership in the middle of the park. And with Mbappe’s explosive pace on the wing, Griezmann’s finishing has been helped.
On the other hand, Croatia have worked immensely hard to reach the World Cup finals. Sure everyone considered them underdogs, but no one would have predicted their ascension to the finals. Croatia beat Argentina 3-0 and ultimately won all their group stage games. They then won all of their knockout games in extra-time against Denmark, Russia, and England. Their tireless efforts and unbreakable spirit is truly an inspiration to us all. Considering the hardships that a lot of the players faced in their childhood, growing up in a war-torn country.
Anyway, let us see how Deschamps and Dalic might set their teams up in the biggest game of their lives.
|Image Source: Fox Sports|
Let us start with France.
Goalkeeper: Hugo Lloris
Conceding only four goals in this tournament, Lloris has been amazing for France so far. His biggest challenge will be to keep Modric’s men quiet.
Defence: Benjamin Pavard, Samuel Umtiti, Rafael Varane, Lucas Hernandez
While estimating France’s chances before the World Cup actually began, everyone thought that Djibril Sidibe and Benjamin Mendy would start at full-back. But Pavard and Hernandez have been chosen and have done a really good job. Pavard has been a revelation to the world, especially with his spectacular goal against Argentina.
Midfield: N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi
It was always a debate between Matuidi and Tolisso but I think the Juventus man edges it. It is so because he has been trusted by Deschamps in the more important games. However, if he is to play, France have to play a 4-3-3. Matuidi on the left wing is disastrous.
Forwards: Kylian Mbappe, Olivier Giroud, Antoine Griezmann
The explosive pace on the flanks, the brilliant link-up play in the middle, and the world-class finishing make this front three one of the best in the World. Mbappe will look to beat his fullback and whip in a delicious cross for Giroud to devour. But it won’t be easy against the Croatian defence.
Goalkeeper: Danijel Subasic
For me, he has been the best goalkeeper in this tournament. He faced Lionel Messi and didn’t concede. Then in the knockout stages, Croatia faced two penalty shootouts and still emerged victorious. That deserves a lot of credit.
Defence: Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic
The centre back pairing of the self-proclaimed-best-defender-in-the-world and Vida has been formidable. Even their fullbacks have made some brilliant overlapping runs in the World Cup and have been a great support system to their inverted wingers.
Midfield: Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic, Ante Rebic
This is where Croatia win or lose the match. They have scored more goals than the designated goalscorer and they play an equally instrumental role in the defence. The key for a France victory will be to breakdown this absolutely beautiful midfield first.
Forward: Mario Mandzukic
The goalscorer who sent Croatia to the finals. However, that was his first goal in the tournament. But as I have mentioned in earlier posts, Mandzukic’s main job is to link-up play. His link-up with Perisic and Rebic has been phenomenal.
Here’s hoping for a great final with the better team to emerge victorious, because hey! This day won’t come for another 4 years!
Score Prediction: 2-1 to France (AET)