Youthful France face veteran-laden Croatian side for World Cup glory

Brunilde Fioravanti
Luglio 15, 2018

Will France stick to their usual starting lineup against Croatia in the World Cup final?

A month after the World Cup group stage kicked off with a blowout win by Russian Federation, only two teams are left standing. With an average age of 26 years and 10 days at the start of the World Cup, France could become the youngest squad since Brazil's beloved champions of 1970 (25 years and 5 days at start) to lift the Trophy.

Croatia has done the same this year, needing penalty kicks to beat Denmark and host Russian Federation before defeating England in extra time in the semifinals.

Croatia have shown impressive resolve to withstand three successive matches that went to extra-time - Mario Mandzukic´s victor in the 109th minute defeated England in the semi-final on Wednesday. "We have to play as if this were the first game in this tournament". "We're always laughing. There is always something to do". Key forward Antoine Griezmann said that their preparation has given them confidence ahead of their second consecutive final in a major tournament (they had reached the final of Euro 2016 too). "I do not really know if we realise how far we have come but it is better that way", Lloris said. We are now getting into the tactical and video analysis phase of preparation. We have to imagine it's just a normal game and give everything on the pitch. We have a lot of respect for them.

The only concerns over injuries for France are Blaise Matuidi and Djibril Sidibe. "They play hard and if you listen to some of the interviews with the players, they're really doing this for their country, and it's a very very passionate country".

Pavard has been such a revelation for France at FIFA World Cup 2018
Pavard has been such a revelation for France at FIFA World Cup 2018

Since all yellow card bookings are erased after the quarter-final, no player is suspended for the final today. Will it be France or Croatia?

Varane and Samuel Umtiti are in the middle of the French backline with Benjamin Pavard on the right and Lucas Hernandez on the left.

"This is a historical game for Croatia", said one fan after he took a break from singing the Croatian national anthem with his companions. He will also be expected to bomb forward when the need arises. Kylian Mbappé has been a standout player at the mere age of 19, Grizou (Antoine Griezmann) has been incredible and to me [Hugo] Lloris has been one of the best goalkeepers in the tournament. The tournament's Russian Federation location is less time-zone-friendly for US viewers than Brazil was four years ago, and of course a lot more viewers are now streaming the games on smart TVs, computers, or mobile devices-which is more hard to count via standard methodologies for TV ratings.

If you're one of those US viewers who have been watching the games online, you probably already know the drill: You need access to a live stream provided by Fox Sports (for English-language coverage) or Telemundo (for Spanish-language coverage).

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