The 2018 FIFA World Cup Final is the football match that every fan is excited to talk about. The upcoming event shall be the 21st final of the FIFA World Cup, a tournament held every 4 years in which men's national teams of the member associations of FIFA battle it out on the field. The winners of the World Cup will then qualify for the 2021 FIFA Confederations Cup.
Semifinal Matches - Results
Match 61: France vs. Belgium - July 10, 2018 (21:00 local time) = Winner: France
On Tuesday, France got a ticket to the final as they defeated Belgium in the first semifinal fixture of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. The match will be the third World Cup final for France in 20 years.
Match 62: Croatia vs. England - July 11, 2018 (21:00 local time) = Winner: Croatia
On Wednesday, England faced off Croatia in their first World Cup semi-final since 1990. It sure was total agony for England as they lost in extra time to Croatia. Croatia now have qualified for their first World Cup final in their 5th appearance at the tournament.
With Croatia winning the semi-final, coach Zlatko Dalic said that they can now settle a 20-year-old score against France, "In 1998, I was in France for the first three games as a supporter. I had to go back [to Hajduk Split] for pre-season for the last games. Of course, everybody in Croatia remembers [Lilian] Thuram, the 2-1. This has been the discussion for the last 20 years. Maybe this game has a historic significance. The chance to settle a score. Both teams have shown their qualities and are deserved finalists. This is football, what we have to do is focus on preparing the best game in the tournament in the final."
Let us now take a look at the two teams advancing into the Final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Coach - Didier Deschamps
No doubt that France has the most talented team in the world, and their national team coach Didier Deschamps so far has been doing very well in obtaining an incredible pool of talent he can under his wing. In July 2012, he became the national team coach and since then France had been rising up gradually and managed to reach the final of Euro 2016 but lost against Portugal.
Deschamps' strategy leans more to attack mode and even though the team is full of gifted players waiting to have their talents and skills unleashed on the field, they still do not have what it takes to fully control the game unlike Brazil and Germany, but still France is a deadly bunch on the counter and that's how they are most likely to lineup with pacy wingers in a 4-3-3 formation.
Goalkeepers: Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain).
Defenders: Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Adil Rami (Marseille), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City).
Midfielders: Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich), N'Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), Steven Nzonzi (Sevilla).
Forwards: Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Florian Thauvin (Marseille).
Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and in-form striker Antoine Griezmann are considered the best players for France.
Lloris is deemed as one of the world's greatest goalkeepers, whereas Griezmann has been nothing but spectacular this season and will certainly be linked to some major clubs in the summer.
Having players like them that's situated on the opposite ends of the field definitely makes France a tough team to beat.
Player to Watch Out for:
Kylian Mbappe - The 19-year-old PSG star moves very fast and his ability down the wing meshes well with mobile forwards like Griezmann (similar with Neymar at PSG). He may be lacking when it comes to the strength department, but he makes up for it with his smart and speedy moves. At an early age he's already reached the world stage, and he's not going to pass up the chance to prove that one day he can be the world's top player.
France has a very well-rounded group and its players are as strong as any team from top to bottom. However, there are a few major injury issues. They already lost Laurent Koscielny and they could also lose Dimitri Payet. The others will just have to toughen it out even more, but if you can replace them with guys like Thomas Lemar and Raphael Varane, then you're good to go. It's win or lose for Les Bleus this summer!
The main concern for France is that they lack consistency - they lost to Sweden and drew with Belarus and Luxembourg in qualifying. Also, the full-backs, Benjamin Mendy and Djibril Sidibé have just returned from injuries.
Coach - Zlatko Dalic
Ever since reaching the semi-finals at France 98, Croatia team have failed to make it out of the group. Zlatko Dalic has put together a team that was able to reach the semifinals of the World Cup for only the second time around. Croatia has just lost 2 out of 12 matches that Zlatko has managed since taking over in October 2017.
Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic and Luka Modric are the strong creative options for coach Dalic.
Goalkeepers: Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo), Lovre Kalinic (Gent), Danijel Subasic (Monaco).
Defenders: Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid), Ivan Strinic (Sampdoria), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), Duje Caleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kiev).
Midfielders: Ivan Perisic (Inter), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter), Filip Bradaric (Rijeka), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina),.
Forwards: Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Nikola Kalinic (Milan), Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Ante Rebic (Eintracht), Marko Pjaca (Schalke).
Luka Modric, Croatia's midfielder, is a 32-year-old Real Madrid star. He may very well be past his prime, but he's still a force to reckon with in the field. He certainly doesn't rely much on speed as he uses his body to find space and keep the attack going with pinpoint passes. He's one of the best midfielders out there and will be the powerhouse in the middle for the Europeans.
Player(s) to Watch Out for:
The 29-year-old Domagoj Vida, a defender for Turkish club Besiktas, is considered to be one of the more intimidating players at the World Cup final. He is agile, strong and at times he can get quite reckless. He should do his best to keep his focus, because he's the type of guy who tends to get a red card when faced with a silly challenge.
Tin Jedvaj quickly rose to fame as a 17-year-old playing for Dinamo Zagreb. After making just 14 appearances for the club and Roma signed him in the summer of 2013, he became a hot item before he turned 18. In April he was the youngest player in Bundesliga history to have been sent off 3 times. At a prime age of 22, he's definitely going to be a future star as he can be an alternative option at both center-back and right-back for Croatia.
Croatia entered the 2018 World Cup stage with high expectations, saying that they currently have their strongest roster since the 1998 World Cup. Led by Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric in midfield, the Croatian team delivered a fairly easy win in their first match versus Nigeria, then shook Argentina to grab the No. 1 seed in Group D. They finished group play with yet another win against Iceland, thus making them the 2nd team with 9 points (Uruguay) in this World Cup.
To advance past both Denmark and Russia, Croatia needed penalty kicks, and they did just that. An extra-time goal versus England sent Croatia straight to the final to face France.
The main concern for Croatia is defense, with Dejan Lovren likely to partner Domagoj Vida in the center after injury to the veteran Vedran Corluka.
21st World Cup 2018 Final - France vs. Croatia
Venue: The Luzhniki Stadium, Russia's biggest stadium located in Moscow, shall host the 2018 World Cup finale. Russia's sporting hub has previously hosted the 1980 Summer Olympics, 1999 UEFA Cup Final and the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final.
Schedule: July 15, 2018 Sunday, at 4pm BST