20 years on, France to rule the world again
After 62 matches, lit up by sublime goals, VAR controversy and last minute drama, we now know the two nations who will compete for eternal glory in the 2018 World Cup Final.
As the pre-tournament favourites Brazil, Germany and Spain all fell by the wayside, the much fancied France have emerged as the outstanding performers in Russia. Dispatching Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium in the knock-out rounds, Didier Deschamps’ men will deservedly lineup in Sunday’s showpiece event.
Their opponents? Croatia. Themselves demonstrating a hugely effective mix of attacking flair, attritional defence and an unmatchable work-rate. Three times the Croats have been taken to extra time and three times they have prevailed.
France are chasing a second world crown after their 1998 success. Croatia are competing in their first ever World Cup Final. Les Bleus hold the upper hand in their recent head to head meetings, winning three and drawing two of their previous five. That includes their 2-1 Semi Final triumph en route to 98 glory.
Latest match odds – France 10/11. Croatia 15/4.
In Kylian Mbappe and Luka Modric we have the two favourites for the Golden Ball. Mbappe, electric against Argentina in the Round of 16, was more simmering than scintillating against Belgium but on the biggest stage of them all, he has the opportunity to enhance his burgeoning reputation still further.
Kylian Mbappe to score first – 5/1
Kylian Mbappe Man of the Match – 5/1
While Mbappe is announcing himself to the footballing world, Modric has long been regarded as one of the most talented midfielders of his generation. Blessed with vision and control to rival even the greats, the Real Madrid man has been instrumental in his country’s run to the final.
A Croatian defeat on Sunday may well see the Golden Ball awarded to a Frenchman, but Modric deserves the accolade after lighting up yet another footballing theatre.
Luka Modric to win Golden Ball – 2/1
Can Croatia dig deep once more, or will their extra time exertions finally catch up with them? No team has run further in this tournament than Modric and his men. And you feel certain that they’ll need to find even greater energy reserves on Sunday if they are to win on their first World Cup Final appearance.
France have kept four clean sheets on their way to the Final, including consecutive shutouts against Uruguay and Belgium in the Quarter and Semis. With Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti in commanding form in front of the agile Hugo Lloris, Les Bleus will be confident of another clean sheet in the Luzhniki Stadium.
France to keep a clean sheet – 20/21
Should France prevent Croatia from scoring, with Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud leading the line, you suspect the men in Blue will be celebrating World Cup glory once again.