Most could’ve predicted France making an appearance in the World Cup Final, but few could’ve predicted their opponent, Croatia. A country of roughly four million people, Croatia has appeared in only five World Cups since gaining independence in 1991. Among those five appearances, tomorrow’s Final will mark the furthest Croatia has made it in their young history. As fate would have it, Croatia is facing a France team that has dashed their World Cup hopes before, the last time coming in the 1998 semi-final. But being the second least-populated country to ever make a World Cup Final, there’s no quit in this inspiring team.
Croatia has had a solid World Cup run so far, but it hasn’t been without numerous gut-wrenching moments. They made quick work of their opponents in group-play, winning all three matches, but as soon as the knockout stage started, blood-pressure began to rise. All three matches went to extra-time, and two of them went all the way to penalties. Croatia has found a way to win in each and every match and they always seem to have the motor to go the distance. However, they’ll be facing their toughest opponent yet, France.
France is no stranger to World Cup success, as they’ve finished fourth in 1982, third in 1958 and 1986, second in 2006, and were crowned champions in 1998. They had to go through Croatia to win it all in 1998 and they’ll have to go through Croatia again to try to recapture the World Cup.
France has been one of the most exciting teams to watch in this World Cup, as they’ve won every game except for a draw against Denmark in the group stage. They have one of the best young rosters in the world with some of the game’s top players at every position. Kylian Mbappe, the 19-year old superstar has not only made himself known as one the best rising stars, but as a candidate for the tournament’s best player. He’s dazzled so far, along with his teammates, to bring us some of the tournament’s most electrifying moments.
The match-ups across the board will no doubt give us a memorable final. Subasic vs. Lloris, Lovren vs. Varane, Modric vs. Pogba, Rakitic vs. Kante, Rebic vs. Griezmann, Perisic vs. Mbappe, Manduzkic vs. Giroud.
France seemingly overwhelms Croatia with talent and depth at every position. Where the mismatch is seen the most is in France’s front-line going up against Croatia’s defense. But the battle in the midfield will be the best aspect of the game to watch. It’s hard to see an outcome with Croatia coming out on top, but if we’ve learned anything throughout this tournament is that it’s never wise to count Croatia out. I predict it will be a fight to the very end, just like every game for Croatia, but I think France will come out on top with a 2-1 victory.