Glory and despair await France and Croatia

Danny Woods
July 15, 2018

It was a point echoed by France captain Hugo Lloris who said the players had shut out the wave of celebrations at home in order to play the ideal match.

"It was a very hard match, Croatia had a great game".

Croatia exceeded their best ever finish in the tournament.

But Croatia had to battle from a goal down in all three of their knockout matches to beat Denmark, Russia and England.

Before half time Perisic put in a risky cross into the box but Ante Rebic couldn't quite get his shot right as they pushed for an equalizer and went close from two more set pieces before the break.

Paul Pogba and Kylian Mbappe wrapped up matters after the break. Today, with his smart tactical set-up, Didier Deschamps won the duel with Dalic.

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Most consider France to be the favourites for the match at the Luzhniki Stadium, just like two years ago when the country's national team faced Portugal in the European Championship final at home. They know it. Some of them were not born but they have seen pictures. "I am here with them to write a new page in history, a most lovely page".

Croatia showed no early nerves and confidently dominated the action in the French half, without however threatening as Raphael Varane headed a cross out of danger ahead of Mandzukic.

Luka Modric and company also topped their group by beating Nigeria, Argentina, and Iceland.

Croatia had started full of energy but fell behind when Mandzukic, who scored the extra-time victor against England in the semi-final, became the first man to score an own goal in a World Cup final when a Griezmann free kick skidded in off his head in the 18th minute.

Despite Croatia having the majority of possession in the opening stages, France took the lead in somewhat fortuitous circumstances. Croatia have brought joy to their Balkan nation of just four million people by defying the odds to progress to the final while reigning champions Germany, then Argentina and Brazil all fell by the wayside in Russian Federation.

Benjamin Pavard will continue at right-back while the left-back slot will go to Lucas Hernandez who has quietly put in a good shift in the past two games that saw France keep clean sheets. "We have to play as if this were the first game in this tournament".

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