Heroes And Villains Of The World Cup: Matchday 23

It’s Croatia vs. France in the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup!

On July 15, 2018, France and Croatia will meet at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow to contest the final of the World Cup. It’ll be a matchup of the two most deserving teams, but you can’t help but feel that England missed out on a massive opportunity after looking in the ascendency for the better part of the opening hour today. 

Regardless, Croatia came roaring back into the match and deserved its winner (avoiding penalties was a godsend). The loss will only add to England’s vaunted history of heartbreak, while the Croatia win serves to further emphasize the fact this tiny nation (its population is the fourth smallest at this World Cup, sandwiched between Panama and Costa Rica) can really ball.  

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Heroes and Villains of the World Cup: Matchday 23

Hero: Ivan Perisic (Croatia) 

A goal, an assist and a shot that smashed off the base of the post. In a midfield that’s so often highlighted by the play of Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric, Perisic was the standout performer. 

Honorable mention: Domagoj Vida (Croatia) 

I’ll be honest, I thought England would get after Vida and Lovren. I thought Kane would pull them all over the place while Sterling would run in behind and destroy them with pace. I was entirely wrong. Vida withstood the jeering of a lot of Russians and shutdown England's attack.  

Villain: Harry Kane (England)

After worrying supporters with a subpar match against Sweden, the worst fears of England fans were realized today after Kane turned in another sluggish performance leading the line. The Tottenham striker missed a couple chances you’d expect him to bury, and he didn’t do enough to occupy Lovren and Vida.  

He’ll almost certainly win the Golden Boot with his six goals, but the man who looked unflappable against Colombia certainly looked shook in England’s last two games.  

Honorable mention: John Stones (England) 

After putting in immense performances against Colombia and Sweden, Stones was at fault for Croatia’s winner Wednesday. He just kinda fell asleep. 

He had a header saved off the line and was great with his passing, but he’s still entirely capable of showing very little authority in the position that needs it most. 

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