France vs Croatia Preview:
Probable starting lineups:
Lloris, Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Lucas, Pogba, Kante, Mbappe, Griezmann, Matuidi, Giroud
Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Rakitic, Brozovic, Rebic, Modric, Perisic, Mandzukic
France have eliminated Belgium in the semi-final thanks to the Samuel Umtiti's goal in the second half. This will be the third final for Les Bleus - they lifted the trophy 20 years ago winning 3:0 against Brazil, while suffered a painful defeat to Italy in 2006. Coach Didier Deschamps is doing a fantastic job and I believe the fans are satisfied. He could become the third man to win the World Cup as both a player and manager, after Brazilian Mario Zagallo and Germany's Franz Beckenbauer. France played very good in Russia and they are consistent. They managed to beat Uruguay in the quarter-finals thanks to Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann. Atletico Madrid star has been directly involved in 20 goals in his last 20 competitive games for France, scoring 12 goals and assisting eight. In addition, Griezmann has been directly involved in 13 of France's last 20 goals scored in major tournaments (World Cup and Euros). Kylian Mbappe should also be mentioned. The 19-year-old player netted a brace against Argentina to became the first teenager to score two goals in a World Cup game since Pele in 1958 final. France played very good in the group stage too. They beat Australia with 2:1 and Peru with 1:0, while in the third round played a scoreless draw with Denmark. For this match coach Didier Deschamps has all players available, including Blaise Matuidi who went off injured against Belgium.
Croatia reached the final after the extra-time victory over England. The Three Lions took the advantage after only five minutes thanks to Kieran Trippier's free-kick, but Ivan Perisic equalized the result in the 68th-minute sending the match into extra time. Just to mention, Perisic has been involved in 10 goals at major tournaments for Croatia, scoring six and assisting four. Mario Mandzukic became the nation's new hero as he scored the winning goal in the 109th minute. Croatia have qualified for their first World Cup final in the history and the whole nation is in delirium. Previously they have eliminated Russia in the quarter-finals after penalty roulette, as well as Denmark in Last 16 tie. Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic is most deserved for these victories. Croatia played very good in the group too. They started with a routine 2:0 win over Nigeria, then outplayed Argentina with 3:0 and beat Iceland with 2:1 in the third round. But coach Zlatko Dalic has some injury issues ahead of this match. Defender Ivan Strinic is rated as doubtful after limping off against England, while Mario Mandzukic, who went off with cramp in extra-time of the same match, should be ready in time to start. Coach Dalic has only 22 available players after the striker Nikola Kalinic was sent home for disciplinary reasons.
France vs Croatia Prediction:
France are big favorites to win the World Cup, but don't forget there were lot of upsets so far in Russia. I expect both teams to score in the final. France have players able to make the difference, like Pogba, Mbappe, Griezmann or Giroud. They could be furious, like against Argentina, or play a routine match against Belgium. However, they are definitely able to score. Croatian players, meanwhile, are 90 minutes away from immortality in their homeland. They also have top players in the squad, like Modric from Real Madrid, Rakitic from Barcelona, Perisic from Inter and Mandzukic from Juventus. I expect an interesting match at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
France vs Croatia Pick: Both teams to score- Yes