The 2018 World Cup Final is a rematch of the 1998 semi final won 2-1 by France. 20 years ago Didier Deschamps captained the French side to their first World Cup and in 2018 he is favoured to manage them to another title. However, Croatia cannot be overlook or underestimated, as they have shown incredible stamina and mental strength throughout this .
Croatia were able to defeat England by playing a physical brand of football in the middle of the park. Ivan Rakitic and Ivan Peresic lightened the load for Luka Modric, who was involved in setting the pace for every significant attack box to box. Ivan Perisic was the star of Croatia's 2nd half versus England. He scored the equaliser, hit the post and set up the winning goal for Mandzukic. If Perisic can offer a consistent performance in the final, he will cause the French defence problems on the wing. Mario Mandzukic is arguably one of the hardest working strikers in the game, he has won more tackles (7) than any other striker at the 2018 World Cup. Croatia are at risk of fatigue with each their last three games going to extra time, they have essentially played an additional 90 minutes and have one less day to recover than France. Croatia will need to get off to a strong start, so as not to expend additional energy playing catch-up. Croatia have been able to control the tempo of all three matches of the knockout phase. If they are able to dictate the tempo versus France, they will put themselves in a position to be successful.
France's goals come from everywhere on the pitch, including defence: this is the first time since 1998 that three defenders (Lizarazu, Blanc & Thuram) have scored a goal for France in the same World Cup (Pavard, Varane & Umtiti). Hugo Lloris has been solid in goal for France. With 3 shutouts, no goalkeeper has kept more clean sheets than Lloris. In midfield, N’Golo Kanté has proven to be the defensive stalwart for France. He provides coverage for his teammates and opens up the field: his 29 combined tackles and interceptions are more than any single player in this World Cup. Paul Pogba's passing accuracy versus Belgium was 90%, this opened up many probing runs, for Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann up front. Mbappé created 6 chances in the semi-final. His speed and size are the first thing that cause you take notice, but he also has excellent vision and a deft passing ability. Olivier Giroud will need to take advantage of these chances and put some shots on goal to test Danijel Subasic. Olivier Giroud has played 425 minutes at the 2018 World Cup without registering a single shot on target. Even though his principal role is to win aerial duels and to hold up the ball, this a poor return for a striker. France are a balanced, talented squad with a tremendous amount of quality in every single position to cover for any shortcomings. An up-tempo pace to the match will put it in their favour.
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