- France and Croatia meet at Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow on the 15th of July for the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final
- France open as the clear betting favorite; can they win a second World Cup?
- Croatia survived three grueling knockout rounds; can they win their first ever major tournament?
France and Croatia will meet in Moscow to decide the winner of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It’s been a wild ride up to this moment, with many of the favorites flaring out in the early stages. Germany failed to advance to the knockout stages, Spain succumbed to the hosts in the Round of 16, and pre-tournament favorites Brazil were sent packing in the Quarter-finals.
Hopefully you all took my advice and picked both France and Croatia before the tournament began, back when France was going for +650 and Croatia for +3300. If not, there are still some value bets waiting for you.
Tale Of The Tape
|26||Total Shots On Target||24|
We witnessed two very different routes to the final.
Croatia soared in the Group Stage, thrashing Argentina 3-0 to top a tough group. They were one of only three teams to collect a perfect 3-0-0 record, and were rewarded for their efforts with a relatively easy path to the final.
However, their form dipped in the knockout rounds and the Croatians were forced into shootouts against both Denmark and Russia, two sides they should have comfortably beaten. Then they came back from a goal down to beat England in Extra Time.
It’s been the opposite with France. The inexperienced French squad failed to impress during the Group Stage, topping their group despite struggling against lowly nations like Australia, Denmark, and Peru. Then they faced three tough nations — Argentina, Uruguay, and Belgium — in the knockout stages, and rose to the occasion each time.
France got off to a shaky start, but the young, star-studded team found its groove in the later rounds. Croatia amazed in the groups, but their more recent performances haven’t been nearly as impressive.
If we compare the two squads, player by player, then there’s no doubt that France is the better side. With a market value of $1.2 Billion, France boasts the most valuable side at this World Cup. Even their bench is loaded with world-class talent.
Croatia aren’t nearly as fortunate. Zlatko Dalic’s squad has a market value of only $380 Million. But what Croatia lack in depth, they make up for in creative talent and squad cohesion. With Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic side-by-side in central midfield, Croatia have two of the most talented playmakers holding the team together.
With a market value of $1.2 Billion, France boasts the most valuable side at this World Cup. Even their bench is loaded with world-class talent.
The two midfields seem evenly matched. The Modric-Rakitic double pivot of Croatia will likely come face-to-face with N’Golo Kante and Paul Pogba, which will truly be a sight to see. Kante is perhaps the best defensive midfielder in the world right now, and Pogba is the Swiss Army knife of midfielders.
Croatia’s lack of defensive talent will be their biggest concern. Liverpool man Dejan Lovren has had a successful World Cup, but he’s prone to awful blunders. Sime Vrsaljko is perhaps their most talented defender, but the 26-year-old is battling a knee injury and may not be fit for the final.
Croatia have yet to face a side with as much attacking talent as France. It’s unlikely that they’ll hold a clean sheet against the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann, and Olivier Giroud.
Pick: France (-110)
Croatia have done spectacularly to reach the World Cup final for the first time in their nation’s history. However, they’ve been very lucky to get this far. They benefited from an extremely lopsided bracket, which saw virtually all the favorites end up on the opposite side. And even with the easy draw, they struggled at every step of the way.
They faced the lowly Denmark in the Round of 16, and were taken to penalties. Then they took on hosts Russia, the lowest-ranked team in the tournament, and once again were forced into penalties. Then came England, who they beat in Extra Time.
All up, the Croatians have played a full 90 minutes more than their French counterparts. That’s got to leave them both physically and mentally drained. Croatia’s star players — Mandzukic (32), Modric (32), Rakitic (30), and Perisic (29) — are all approaching retirement age, and they may not have much left after three grueling tours into Extra Time.
|France||-1/2 (-120)||-110||2 (+105) O||-220|
|Croatia||+1/2 (Even||+365||2 (-125) U||+190|