World Cup Final 2018: France vs Croatia, 3 key battles to watch out for
And then there were two.
After almost a month of breath-taking football, we've got the finalists of 2018 FIFA World Cup as France and Croatia have secured a showdown for football’s greatest prize on Sunday at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow.
The pre-tournament favourites France are far from their attacking best but have done just enough to reach the final whereas Croatia are shock-contenders in a tournament which saw heavyweights bite the dust on a regular basis.
Having played the semifinal a day earlier, Didier Deschamp's side will be relatively fresher compared to the Croats who have played three extra-time games on the trot to come this far.
So, Will France claim superiority by winning their second title, or Croatia their first? We will have to wait and see. And while we wait for the match to get underway, let’s take a look at three key player battles which could decide the tie:
#3 Kylian Mbappe vs Ivan Strinic
Surprisingly for an exciting and open World Cup as this, the final is between two teams who aren’t inordinately adventurous. Both France and Croatia like to stay cautious in their approach, while they pick their moments to go forward.
There are no reasons to believe why they should change this approach which has brought them to where they are right now. In games like these where chances will be few and far between, usually individual brilliance can make a difference. In Kylian Mbappe, France have just the man who can hurt the Croats with his speed and footballing skills.
Mbappe announced his arrival on the global stage with a brace against Argentina in the last-16 tie and has been impressive thereafter as well.
The man from the Croatian camp who will be tasked with stopping the Frenchman’s advances is Ivan Strinic. The left-back had a torrid time on the pitch against England as Raheem Sterling was causing him all sorts of trouble with swift movements; however, he managed to weather the storm and came out victorious in the end.
Strinic’s defensive skills will once again be put to test against Mbappe on Sunday.