World Cup preview: Croatia vs France

Croatia take on France in Sunday’s much-anticipated World Cup final in Moscow. Croatia were regarded as one of the dark horses of the tournament after their strong showing in the group phase and they have since shown that they should be taken lightly with knockout victories over Denmark, Russia and England – all of which went into added extra-time.

France, on the other hand, have rarely looked the team of old but Didier Deschamps has devised a tentative approach which has brought them success. After topping their World Cup group, Les Bleus have witnessed a much-harder route with the likes of Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium being ousted along the way. All their knockout games ended within normal time with the result clearly known.

Players to watch for:

Ivan Perisic – Croatia: The Inter Milan star light up the semi-final with a strong showing where he contributed a goal and an assist. Barring this, Perisic showed exemplary workrate over the course of 120 minutes and he could have quite easily bagged a hat-trick with the luck on his side. Against France, Croatia are genuinely considered as underdogs but should Perisic play in the same vein, there is every chance that the Croats could secure a shock triumph, considering Deschamps’ side have not looked their clinical best at the tournament.

Paul Pogba – France: Unlike at club level with Manchester United, Pogba has enjoyed a good summer with Les Bleus where he has had the freedom to operate further up the field. The Frenchman has normally started on the left side of a three-man midfield and though he has not contributed a goal or assist, he has been heavily involved in the lead-up to some of France’s strikes. Pogba does love the big occasion as shown in the Manchester derby earlier this year and he has the perfect opportunity to showcase his attacking prowess with N’Golo Kante providing the defensive assurance behind him.

Prediction:

France to win in added extra-time

Croatia 1-2 France

Image – Creative Commons