Date: Sunday July 15th
Match Odds: France -115 / Croatia +390 / Draw +230
Over/Under: 2.5 goals
Well, we are down to the finals where the surprise finalist Croatia takes on France, who are the betting favorites. Les Bleus are looking for their 2nd World Cup trophy while Croatia has already ensured their best ever finishing besting their 3rd place finish in the 1998 World Cup. Interesting that in the 1998 World Cup host France beat Croatia in the semifinals.
Croatia has showed they have a lot of fight in them, as they have come back from a deficit to win all three of their knockout stage matches.
The Croats beat England in the semifinals after giving up an early goal and then winning in extra time on Mario Mandzukic’s goal in the 109th minute. It would help if the Balkan squad can get off to a good start in the finals and in two of their three knockout stage matches they gave up a goal within the first five minutes.
France beat Belgium in the semifinals even though they lost the time of possession battle 36% to 64%. Their defense played great in keeping a clean sheet and also played well in the midfield facing a strong Belgium midfield. That will be the case in this match as well, as Croatia’s strength is their midfield led by LUca Modric and Ivan Rakitić.
Up front Mandzukic’s, Ivan Perisic and Andrej Kramaric lead the Croatian attack and have a tall task in this match. The French defense has been more than solid in the Tournament keeping clean sheets in Four of their five matches including their last two. The center backs of Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti have played well in the whole Tournament for France and GK Hugo Loris has been a rock in goal.
In the five all-time meetings between these teams France has three wins and there have been two draws.
Antoine Griezmann, Kylian Mbappe and Olivier Giroud lead the attack for Les Bleus and Paul Pogba leads the midfield.
Danijel Subašić has played well in the goal for the Croats and came up big in the two penalty shootout wins in their first two knockout stage matches. Croatia has showed they have a good defense, but there have been lapses and they have allowed at least a goal in their last five matches.
Croatia looked far from stellar in the first half in their match facing England, but in the 2nd half and after they equalized the match they were a different team. They must have crisp passes and not have a lapse in the defensive back line.
Last Three Matches
6/30/18 France 4 Argentina 3
7/6/18 Uruguay 0 France 2
7/10/18 France 1 Belgium 0
7/1/18 Croatia P 1 – 1 Denmark (Croatia won on penalties 3-2)
7/7/18 Russia 2 – 2 P Croatia (Croatia won on penalties 4-3)
7/11/18 Croatia 2 England 1 (extra time)
Prediction: The French have never lost to Croatia, are the betting favorites in the finals, and have two clean sheets in their last two matches. On top of that Croatia has to be the more gassed team with all three of their knockout stage matches going to extra time. However, the Croats are fighters and they will show that, yet again, in the finals. Like their other knockout stage matches this one will go to extra time and they will find a way to Scorebefore going to penalties and they will, shockingly, capture their first World Cup trophy beating France 2-1.