While France being in the 2018 World Cup final isn’t a shock as Les Bleus were one of the pre-tournament favorites, Croatia being there is a surprise. The country of about 4 million is the second-smallest to reach a World Cup final and looks for its first title. The French eye their second, also winning in 1998. They are the MyBookie Sportsbook favorites for Sunday’s World Cup final.
2018 World Cup Final Odds & Betting Prediction: France vs Croatia
At today’s press conference, @paulpogba talked about the mental attitude required to win a final, Croatia’s strengths & the more defensive role he has adopted.
— French Team (@FrenchTeam) 12 de julio de 2018
- When: Sunday, 11 AM ET
- Where: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
- TV/Stream: Fox/Fox Sports Go
- 2018 World Cup Final Odds: France -110 / Croatia +300 / Draw +220 (Total of 2)
Why Bet on Croatia?
- Confederation: UEFA
- Head coach: Zlatko Dalić
- Captain: Luka Modric
- FIFA Ranking: 20
- World Cup Appearances: 5
The Croats are the comeback kids as they rallied against Denmark in the Round of 16, vs. Russia in the quarterfinals and from down early 1-0 to England in the semis to win 2-1. Mario Mandzukic scored the goal that broke English hearts on 109 minutes as Croatia reached the World Cup semis for the first time since 1998. Ivan Perisic had forced extra-time with Croatia’s equalizer on 68 minutes. Croatia has qualified for their first World Cup final in their fifth appearance at the World Cup finals.
Mandzukic’s winning goal was the latest goal ever conceded by England in a World Cup match (108:03). Perisic has been involved in 10 goals at major tournaments for Croatia (6 goals, 4 assists), the joint-most, level with Davor Suker (9 goals, 1 assist).
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has revealed the masterplan that undid England: “Because we were the better team in all segments of the game. We did not underestimate them. We respected them because we analyzed them. We knew what they were doing and where. We played a high press on their backline. We closed down (John) Stones and (Jordan) Henderson. We nullified them.”
Croatia was the 4th team to win a World Cup semifinal match in extra time and the seventh to earn a come-from-behind win in that round. Croatia is the first team to come from behind in three straight knockout stage matches to advance at the World Cup. It was only the second team in World Cup history to play three straight extra-time matches at a single World Cup, joining England in 1990.
Croatia will be the sixth team to appear in its first World Cup final against a team that previously won the World Cup and the first since France 20 years ago. A total of 10 players in World Cup history have won the Champions League and World Cup in the same year. With Real Madrid‘s Raphael Varanae of France and Luka Modric & Mateo Kovacic of Croatia in the final, there is guaranteed to be an 11th.
Croatia should name an unchanged XI from the side that started against England, although there will be some tired legs. Mandzukic came off against England with cramp but should recover in time to start. Ivan Strinic also limped off on Wednesday night but should be fine to start at left-back this weekend. Sime Vrsaljko remarkably recovered from a knee injury in time to start against England and will continue at right-back.
- 23-D. Subašić
- 21-D. Vida
- 3-I. Strinić
- 6-D. Lovren
- 2-Š. Vrsaljko
- 10-L. Modrić
- 7-I. Rakitić
- 4-I. Perišić
- 11-M. Brozović
- 17-M. Mandžukić
- 18-A. Rebić
Why Bet on France?
- Confederation: UEFA
- Head coach: Didier Deschamps
- Captain: Hugo Lloris
- FIFA Ranking: 7
- World Cup Appearances: 15
Of the last eight World Cup finals, including this one, only two have been won by teams outside of Europe (both Brazil, 1994, 2002). France has not been involved in a World Cup shootout since 2006 final when they lost to Italy.
The French defense has been terrific all tournament other than a 4-3 win over Argentina, and it shut down powerful Belgium 1-0 in the semifinals. Samuel Umtiti was the hero for France as his second-half header sealed the win. Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris hasn’t allowed a goal in two straight matches and is the Golden Glove favorite.
France has beaten Belgium three times in World Cup matches, more than they’ve beaten any other side in the competition. France has reached their third World Cup final, also doing so in 1998 and 2006. Only Germany (8) and Italy (6) have reached more among European nations.
France’s path to the World Cup final didn’t come as much of a surprise, as it was considered one of the favorites before the tournament started. It landed in Group C with Denmark, Peru, and Australia, and was a heavy favorite to win the group, which it did.
Didier Deschamps, a captain on the 1998 team, is not expected to make any changes from the side that beat Belgium in the semi-finals. Djibril Sidibe is still a doubt for Les Bleus but Benjamin Pavard is expected to start at right-back. Blaise Matuidi avoided significant harm in a challenge with Eden Hazard that forced him off but should be fine to start on Sunday. Olivier Giroud should start up front despite a poor performance last time out.
Deschamps is the 4th man to play in and manage a World Cup final. He joins Franz Beckenbauer, Rudi Völler, and Mário Zagallo. His team has a ton of offensive firepower with players like Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe up front, and N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba in the midfield.
Croatia has never beaten France in five previous meetings, although the last two encounters have ended in a draw. They last met in a 2011 friendly in Paris, which ended 0-0. Their only World Cup matchup was in 1998 in the semifinals when France won 2-1 on the way to the title.
- 1-H. Lloris
- 4-R. Varane
- 5-S. Umtiti
- 21-L. Hernández
- 2-B. Pavard
- 6-P. Pogba
- 13-N. Kanté
- 12-C. Tolisso
- 7-A. Griezmann
- 9-O. Giroud
- 10-K. Mbappé
Expert Prediction for France vs Croatia
Like to see Croatia win one for the little guys, but France is too talented and prevails 1-0.