Well, it all comes down to this. We’ve watched 62 matches played in the 2018 World Cup and the two teams left standing at the end are France and Croatia. The French and the Croatians will meet Sunday in Moscow for the right to call themselves world champions. France will be looking to hoist the trophy for the second time, doing so 20 years ago as hosts of the 1998 World Cup, while Croatia will be hoping to become the newest member of the exclusive club of world champions, not to mention the second-smallest country to ever win a World Cup.
Look Who’s Grown
France has followed the old cliche of a team that has grown into the tournament. They were less than convincing during the group stage, but they have found their groove during the knockout stage and looked more impressive with each and every game. Some skepticism remained after their quarterfinal win over a short-handed Uruguay side, but there is little reason to doubt Les Bleus after their victory over Belgium in the semi-finals. They didn’t play the most exciting brand of soccer in that game. But they had a plan, stuck to it, and did all the dirty work necessary to cling to their lead once they got it. By doing so, they leave no doubt that they are a team capable of winning a world championship.
Fatigue A Factor?
One has to wonder if Croatia will be a little tired heading into the final after all they’ve endured during the knockout stage. Sunday’s game will be their fourth in a 15-day period, which is a busy schedule, especially when you consider that their three previous games all required an extra 30 minutes. To be fair, star midfielder Luca Modric has shown no signs of slowing down. In fact, he looks to be strongest late in games and in the extra session. However, the same can’t be said of all of his teammates. If there’s one positive for Croatia it’s that they won’t have to travel between the semi-finals and the finals. However, France also has one more day of rest in between and has won all three of their knockout games in regulation.
World Cup of Set Pieces
This has undoubtedly been the World Cup of set pieces, so one must assume they will play a role in the final. Croatia gave up a goal on a set piece against England in the semi-final and against Russia in the quarterfinal. The goal they allowed against Denmark also came off a long throw-in, so they’ve been susceptible on set pieces in this tournament. On the other hand, France scored its lone goal against Belgium off a corner kick and its opener against Uruguay off a set piece. That would seem to give France an edge in the set piece department heading into the final.
In terms of soccer betting, this World Cup has been difficult to predict, as so many underdogs have pulled off surprises. But in a final, things tend to go as expected. Croatia has been great in this tournament, but France has history and tradition on their side. They have also been the more convincing side during these last three games. In the end, France will find a way to beat Croatia 1-0.