X

World Cup 2018 Final Predictions, Odds and Schedule for France vs. Croatia

Rory Marsden@@roomarsdenFeatured ColumnistJuly 12, 2018

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 11: Luka Modric of Croatia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Semi Final match between England and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 11, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Jean Catuffe/Getty Images

Croatia joined France in the 2018 FIFA World Cup final by beating England 2-1 after extra time in Moscow on Wednesday.

They will go into Sunday's clash as big underdogs, as Les Bleus boast a much deeper squad of higher quality.

But Croatia have plenty of their own stars, including Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic, and they will be confident of causing France plenty of problems in their first appearance in a World Cup final.

           

Date: Sunday, July 15

Time: 4 p.m. BST, 11 a.m. ET

TV Info: Live on BBC One, ITV (UK) and FOX (U.S.)

Live Stream: BBC iPlayer, ITV Hub, Fox Soccer Match Pass

Match Odds (via OddsShark): France (100-113), Croatia (4-1), Draw (21-10)

              

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

France have much greater World Cup final pedigree than Croatia.

They beat Brazil 3-0 in 1998 to win their home tournament, lost on penalties to Italy in Germany in 2006's final and are now looking to join Argentina and Uruguay with two World Cup triumphs.

In contrast, Croatia were only readmitted to FIFA in 1992, and their progression to a World Cup final is remarkable, as Miguel Delaney of The Independent highlighted:

Miguel Delaney @MiguelDelaney

Croatia last population census was about 4.2m - the smallest country to play in a World Cup final since Uruguay 1950, and it's obviously a very different - and much bigger - football world since then. Astonishing achievement.

They have endured a tough run to the final, needing penalties to get past Denmark and Russia before having to come from a goal behind to beat England in extra time.

France, meanwhile, have enjoyed serene progress through the knockout rounds. They beat Argentina 4-3 in the last 16 in a classic encounter, eased past Uruguay with a 2-0 success in the quarter-finals and then claimed a controlled 1-0 victory over Belgium.

Given the immense quality they have in their side, it feels as though France could have another gear to go to should they need it against Croatia.

And that could be where the problem lies for Zlatko Dalic's men.

Croatia have yet to face a side boasting any real creativity in the knockout stages and needed extra time to beat an England side who could muster only one shot on target from open play:

WhoScored.com @WhoScored

#CRO 2-1 #ENG FT: England have lost their last 4 semi-finals at major tournaments (Euro 68 vs Yugoslavia, 1990WC vs West Germany, Euro 96 vs Germany & 2018WC vs Croatia) Full match statistics: https://t.co/pH0Uprk2Fl https://t.co/lYsSiEbGjh

France have Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud, Paul Pogba, Thomas Lemar, Ousmane Dembele, Nabil Fekir and Kylian Mbappe in their squad.

All those players are capable of troubling Croatia's defence, and Mbappe is sure to terrorise their centre-backs with his pace.

Unlike most other sides in the tournament, France also have a midfield to rival Croatia's enviable central trio of Modric, Rakitic and Marcelo Brozovic.

Paul Pogba of France during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Semi Final match between France and Belgium at the Saint Petersburg Stadium on June 26, 2018 in Saint Petersburg, Russia(Photo by VI Images via Getty Images)
VI-Images/Getty Images

While Les Bleus will likely be happy to allow Croatia to have the ball in the middle of the park, Pogba, N'Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi will not give them any time or space.

France are strong favourites for a reason. They have immense quality in their squad, boast defensive solidity and, while they may not have sparkled in this tournament as much as some might have expected them to, they have been ruthless.

Another quality performance in the final should see France have too much for Croatia.

Prediction: Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud to score in a 2-0 win for France.

slash iconYour sports. Delivered.

Enjoy our content? Join our newsletter to get the latest in sports news delivered straight to your inbox!