Behind the numbers for France and Croatia

Brunilde Fioravanti
Luglio 15, 2018

Will two others show them up with a winners' medal, or will it be consolations all around? "The talent on display is amongst the very best in world football".

Seven years after they gained independence from the former Yugoslavia, Croatia's thrilling and unexpected run to the semi-finals was, for just about everyone except the victorious hosts, the highlight of France '98. France, meanwhile, boast N'Golo Kante's energy and Kylian Mbappe's explosive space: a combination that should be too much for Zlatko Dalic's men. The last national team to reach a World Cup final having never previously played a major tournament final was the Netherlands in 1974 - but even then their squad was full of players who had played a key role in Dutch clubs' phenomenal success in the European Cup between 1970 and 1973.

The final will require a level-headed referee to overlook the game and Federation Internationale de Football Association have chosen an experienced official who has already taken charge of eight World Cup matches in the past.

Brendan McDonnell: 2 - 2 (France AET).

Luka Modric, dominating matches at age 32, has had the best midfield distribution in the tournament, perhaps the best at the World Cup since Spain's Xavi Hernandez in 2010 and Italy's Andrea Pirlo in 2006. This game is the flawless manifestation.

"The Croats are not just Modric".

TRT World's Lance Santos has more. A ideal example: Mario Mandzukic was cooked in the semi's and then made a flawless run to score the victor. Croatia will play their hearts out, get the match to 120 minutes and die at the finish line.

Nate Hofmann: 3 - 0.

Deschamps was the captain when France secured their only World Cup title in 1998. Unfortunately, this is where it ends.

The game at Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, starts at 6 p.m. local time, or 11 a.m. Striker Mario Mandzukic is also an awkward forward to defend against and could cause problems with his aerial prowess while Ivan Perisic was a threat throughout as Croatia saw off England.

What is not in doubt is that the Croatians have done brilliantly to get this far.

Pitana is one of South America's most experienced referees and also has playing experience at youth level.

France are the bookies' favourites after an impressive campaign and it is hard to disagree. But if there's anything to learn from this World Cup, it's to not make assumptions. Maybe a scorpion, maybe a glancing header off his chin while twirling in the air, maybe he'll backheel nutmeg Antoine Griezmann and use the outside of his foot to find the top corner mid-pirouette. It may not be the goal of the tournament, but it won't be normal.

What are you looking for out of this game?

The second model evaluates the quality of the players on both teams.

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