It has been a month long of exciting football display and the stage is now set in what appears to be an epic final showdown between the Le Bleux of France and the Croatian national team at the Russia 2018 FIFA World Cup. Before the commencement of the tournament, both teams were obviously not the bookmaker’s favorite to lift the world cup.
But the event of the last four weeks has shown that the two finalist merits their place to play in the Moscow final.
However, whilst, the French side won two and drew one of its group stage match; the Croatian posted a one hundred percent record in the group phase by winning all its matches. Though, the French did not have an impressive outing in their Group C fixtures, but, the imperious manner at which they dispatch one of the world cup favorites, Albiceleste of Argentina in the round of 16, was absolutely fantastic! The Croats had to send home their respective opponents: Denmark and Russia in the second round and quarter finals through spot kicks. The French subdued South American power house, Uruguay with a convincing 2-0 wins.
Indeed, in setting a stage in what may turn up to be an explosive final, the Croats had to wait till extra time to edge the English three lions 2-1. Interestingly, a Samuel Umititi’s second half header was all the French needed to humble the ambitious Red devil of Belgium in the semi-final to book a place in the final.
From the foregoing, it is imperative to state that the two teams without any sense of contradiction or ambiguity deserve their place to play in the world cup final.
It is certainly going to be a classic, and history may have to re-write itself because the last time the two teams met in a world cup match up was at the semi-final of the France 1998 World Cup to which a resilient Croats side were on the verge of booking a final passage only for Lillian Thuram brace to hand the French a scrappy 2-1 win.
One interesting fact is that this present generation of Croatia players is not considered to have the golden generation mantra.
In fact, the generation of Zmonir Boban and Robert Prosineski was full of talents. But, what the present generation of Ivan Raketic, Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic and Luca Modric lacks in individual brilliance and flair, they make up for their doggedness and tenacity.
On the other hand, the French have paid their dues and the sides that have been ably tinkered and tutored by Former French Captain, Didier Deschamps after the 2010 debacle in South Africa, have grown in strength and stature. More so, the emergence of teenage sensation, Kylian Mbappe, has equally helped to strengthen the team.
Over all, the experience of captain and goalkeeper, Hugo Lloris, Paul Pogba, Antoinne Griezzeman may help the Le Bleux to lift the world cup in order to forget the heart break of two years ago when they lost in the final of the European Championship on home soil to Portugal.
That being said, if Croatia goes on to win the final, they will become the 9th nation to win the world cup, and for the French, an eventual triumph in Sunday’s final, will rank them in world cup history book alongside Argentina and Uruguay as nations to have won the World Cup twice.
Moreover, playing against the Croats, the French will obviously have its work cut out, and, whatsoever tactics French Coach, Didier Deschamps may deploy to keep the Croats at bay will be what we may wait to find out at the end of 90 minutes or beyond.
Nevertheless, it promises to be an interesting final as the two teams are equally match and, whichever team wins the Russia 2018 World Cup, I will say Congratulations!
But, I will not end this piece without a definite submission. It is only little details that will decide the winner of the Luzhniki final. If the Croats could maintain their robust, tenacious and resilient style of play, they will certainly take the French to the Cleaners, and, if the French could keep their cool and composure and dispense the fear of imminent circumstance of losing two back to back finals, then they could celebrate all the way to Paris with the World Cup Trophy.
Whilst we wait for another four years to witness the world Cup finals in Qatar 2022, let’s savor and relish this Lazhniki Final in Moscow, Russia, which promises to be a blockbuster final.