France vs Croatia: World Cup Final Predictions 2018, Time And Match Preview

It’s time for history and legend to meld in the form of the greatest spectacle in all of sport, the World Cup final. You can debate the perceived strengths and shortcomings of each nation, but there’s no denying that these are the two most deserving sides in the competition. France’s path through Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium has been expertly navigated; Croatia’s thrilling run has been the story of the finals. It’s time for our World Cup final predictions, time/date information, match preview and team news.

France vs Croatia: World Cup Final Predictions 2018, Time And Match Preview

2018 FIFA World Cup Final Time

France vs Croatia | Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

Sunday, July 15 | 11:00 a.m. ET

FOX and Telemundo | Live Stream on Fox Sports GO and Telemundo Deportes En Vivo | Radio on SiriusXM FC and Futbol de Primera Radio 

France vs Croatia World Cup Final Predictions 2018: Team News, Tactics And Match Preview

After making light work of Group C without every really convincing, France turned on the style in its 4-3 victory over Argentina in the Round of 16. In the quarterfinals, France shut down Uruguay’s attack and effectively sealed passage to the semis after only 60 minutes of play. Les Bleus then secured passage to the final with another intelligent performance against Belgium.

World Cup Final Predictions 2018

Kylian Mbappe is a favorite for the Golden Ball. Photo: Getty Images

France stayed compact, put the clamps on the world’s best attacking side and continued to show menace whenever the ball was at the feet of either Griezmann or Mbappe. The one worry for France has to be the fact that Olivier Giroud has yet to score in 465 minutes of play, and he honestly doesn’t look that likely to score. 

France Predicted Starting XI: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Kante, Pogba; Mbappe, Griezmann, Matuidi; Giroud  

Croatia delighted viewers with three wins from three matches in Group D, including that surreal 3-0 beatdown of Argentina back on June 21. That was followed by an incredibly strange victory over Denmark in the Round of 16, where both teams exchanged goals in the opening four minutes, only to see the game go to penalties with the scoreline unchanged.

In the quarters, Croatia and Russia gave us one of the games of the tournament, exchanging goals in both regular time and extra time before another harrowing shootout.

Croatia’s streak of heading into extra time at 1-1 hit three against England in the semis, but Mandzukic’s 109th-minute winner arrived after a long period of Croatian dominance in the match.  

World Cup Final Predictions

Luka Modric should probably win the Ballon d'Or. Photo: Shutterstock

The likes of Perisic, Modric, Mandzukic, Rakitic and Lovren are the big names that have earned the plaudits, but we’ve also seen the emergence of Ante Rebic, Domagoj Vida and Marcelo Brozovic at this tournament. 

Croatia Predicted Starting XI: Subasic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Brozovic, Rakitic; Rebic, Modric, Perisic; Mandzukic 

France Team News, Injuries And Suspensions

France fielded its strongest eleven against Belgium, but left midfielder Blaise Matuidi was forced off in the 86th minute with what appeared to be a concussion. However, the France camp has indicated that Matuidi will be ready to play in the final. If not, Corentin Tolisso will be drafted into his position.  

France has no suspensions. 

Croatia Team News, Injuries And Suspensions

Heading into the semifinal against England, questions were asked over the fitness of goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, defender Dejan Lovren and right back Sime Vrsaljko. All played for the entire 120 minutes.

In fact, despite all the rumors over possible injuries and fatigue following back-to-back shootout victories, Croatia didn’t utilize its first substitution until the 95th minute, however, that sub was used on starting left back Ivan Strinic, who went down holding his groin. The Milan full back would appear to be Croatia’s biggest worry heading into the final, especially so since he’s the man tasked with shutting down Mbappe. 

Croatia has no suspensions. 

France Key Players

Kylian Mbappe (RW): Heading into the final, the 19-year-old phenom is a strong candidate for the tournament’s Golden Ball award. With three goals, the PSG striker is France’s joint-leading scorer alongside Antoine Griezmann. Mbappe’s searing pace on the right wing decimated both Argentina and Belgium, and Croatia’s Ivan Perisic will have to forgo some of his attacking ambition in order to help contain the precocious teenager.  

Paul Pogba (CM): Pogba has been at his best in Russia, turning in a dominate display against Uruguay before showing a great deal of maturity and defensive acumen against Belgium. Alongside N’Golo Kante, Pogba will now go toe-to-toe with Croatia’s vaunted midfield duo of Modric and Rakitic. Ultimately, this is where the battle will be won or lost — it’s just impossible to predict who has the upper hand. 

Raphael Varane (CB): Varane followed up his terrific goal against Uruguay with a rock-solid performance against Belgium. Keeping a clean sheet against the world’s best attacking side is a testament to how commanding the Real Madrid center half was on Tuesday. 

Croatia Key Players

Mario Mandzukic (ST): You’re not going to hear Mandzukic’s name often on Sunday, but that’ll suit Croatia just fine. The first line of Croatia’s defense against France will be its forward — the Juventus forward is famed for his stamina, strength and work rate off the ball. If his name is called once, Croatia will be hoping that it’s much like his match-winner against England. That goal encapsulated Mandzukic: while everyone else looked haggard and flat-footed, the 6-3 forward was all over it.  

Luka Modric (CM): If Croatia wins it, then you’d expect it’ll be down to Modric’s contribution in midfield. He’d be a deserving winner of the Golden Ball (and the 2018 Ballon d’Or) with his all-action displays in Russia. Quite frankly, his stamina is a joke and his technique never wavers. He’s a source of composure in a Croatia side that can occasionally look quite chaotic. 

Ivan Rakitic (CM): France will want to play this match at its own pace and disrupt a balanced Croatia rhythm that depends largely on getting Rakitic on the ball. While Modric is the more dangerous of the duo further forward, Rakitic will need to break up play from his deeper position and orchestrate the beginning of Croatia’s more dangerous moves.  

World Cup Final Predictions 

France 3 — 1 Croatia

There’s nothing to suggest that Croatia won’t be able to cause France problems. Staying true to Croatia’s pattern, this one could even go to extra time knotted at 1-1. However, we’ve also seen enough deficiencies in Croatia’s play (Russia really got after them; England really got after them in the first half) to suggest that this French juggernaut should be able to overcome any setbacks. 


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