15th July, 2018
Croatia or France? Who takes the glory and the World Cup at the end of 90 (and probably 120) minutes of pulsating and captivating football today 15th July, 2018 at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium?
Oh yes the much awaited-day has finally arrived – the day the 2018 World Cup Competition in Russia finally winds up and either Croatia or France will go home smiling with the World Cup (possibly the most expensive cup) as part of their “hand luggage”.
The fact remains that whoever triumphs in today’s final match thoroughly deserves to be the World’s Soccer Champions. They have really come a long way watching as the pre-tournament favourites all fell by the wayside one after the other.
Let us take a look at some facts that makes today’s match unique in its setting;
- Didier Deschamps is faced with the opportunity of becoming only the third man – after Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer – to win the FIFA World Cup as a player and coach if he can replicate as a coach what he achieved 20 years back as a player when France won the cup at the expense of a completely over-whelmed Brazilian National Team.
- On their way to becoming the World Champions in that same year (1998), the French defeated Croatia in the semi-finals and that is not lost on the opposing team today as they seek to avenge that painful loss. Luckily for them, they are both playing on a neutral ground in today’s game unlike in 1998 when France played on home turf.
- This year’s competition is unique also for the fact that for along time now, this is the first time that the semi-finals had only European Teams competing. No South American opponents such as Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay and the likes.
- It was also the first time in a long time that the English National Team were “allowed to dream” as they qualified for the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup Competition at last.
As for the game today, it sure promises to be a thriller. The French team seem to be well focused and relaxed from close range and said they will prepare for this final just like they have been doing in this competition – in a relaxed mode.
But then, they will have to do much more than that if they really wish to be world champions, as they will have to win the physical challenge imposed by the Croatians.
This Croatian team were not given much opportunity as far progressing to this stage of the competition but did so on merit. Even when they have played far more minutes in this competition than the French Team, they do not look or play like a tired side.
With players like Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic and others all aware of the ernomous amount of glory that will come with winning the Cup, surely anything can happen in this game.
But then again, the France National Team itself has virtually all of its positions manned by no lesser dogged and very importantly gifted players of high repute. Ranging from Antoine Griezmann to Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Olvier Giroud, Ngolo Kante and the likes, one is surely tempted to back France for glory on the 20th Anniversary of their last final match triumph of this same competition on home turf.
So after all said and done, what line-ups are expecting from both teams. Here are my predictions as far as that is concerned.
France: Hugo Lloris; Benjamin Pavard, Raphael Varane, Samuel Umtiti, Lucas Hernandez; Paul Pogba, Ngolo Kante; Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, Blaise Matuidi; Olivier Giroud.
Croatia: Danijel Subasic; Sime Vrsaljko, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic; Ivan Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic; Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic; Mario Mandzukic.
As for winners today, I guess I will go with the Les Bleus.