Match Preview

France vs. Croatia Predictions, Betting Tips and Match Preview

France and Croatia are the two remaining teams in this year’s W. Cup and will battle it out for the biggest prize in football on Sunday afternoon. The French beat Belgium 1-0 in their semi-final, while Croatia beat England 2-1, but played 120 minutes for the third consecutive game in the tournament. They’re still yet to win a knockout game in 90 minutes.

Samuel Umtiti scored a header in the semi-finals in what was the only goal of the match as France made their first final since 2006, when they lost on penalties to Italy. They played very defensively against Belgium, but were able to keep their opponents out and showed the kind of steel that’s required to win tournaments.

As for Croatia, they came from behind to beat England, with Mario Mandzukic scoring the winner in extra time. England allowed Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic to pull the strings in midfield, which ultimately cost them the game. France will have to work hard to ensure that they close down the Croatian maestros and don’t allow them to get a foothold in the game.

France vs. Croatia Predictions

Croatia may come into this game as underdogs, but you cannot count them out and they have shown incredible resilience and strength to make it this far through the tournament. However, I see France winning and keeping a clean sheet as they’re defensively solid and are capable of scoring as well.

France vs. Croatia Betting Tips

  • France to win 2-0: 27/4
  • Kylian Mbappe to score anytime: 2/1
  • Lucas Hernandez to be booked first: 5/1

Head to Head

  • France and Croatia have faced each other five times previously, with France winning three of those games (in 1998, 1999 and 2000). The other two games ended as a draw (2004 and 2011).
  • Two of France and Croatia’s five meetings have been at major tournaments. France won 2-1 against Croatia in the semi-final of the 1998 W. Cup, with Didier Deschamps playing the full match, while their meeting at Euro 2004 ended in a 2-2 draw in the group stage.
  • The last three W. Cup finals have all gone to extra time. However, historically, only two of the showpiece games have ever been decided on penalties (1994, 2006).
  • France have reached their third W. Cup final, winning one (1998) and losing the other on penalties (2006). Their three appearances in finals since 1998 is also more than any other team over the last 20 years, ahead of Brazil and Germany (2).
  • Croatia have reached their first W. Cup final, becoming the 13th different nation and 10th European country to do so. The last two first-time finalists have both won the tournament (France in 1998 and Spain in 2010), while the last to lose were the Netherlands in 1974.
  • France have trailed for just nine minutes and 12 seconds at the 2018 W. Cup, while Croatia have been behind in all three of their knockout matches.
  • Excluding shootouts, France have won 11 of their last 14 games in the knockout stages of the W. Cup (D2 L1).
  • Croatia progressed from their three knockout matches at the 2018 W. Cup via extra time or penalties. No team has ever played extra time in four different matches at a single W. Cup. The others to play in three extra time matches are Belgium (1986), England (1990) and Argentina (2014).
  • Antoine Griezmann has scored or assisted 11 goals in nine knockout games at major tournaments (W. Cup and Euros), more than any other player for France over the last 50 years ahead of Zinedine Zidane (8) and Michel Platini (6).
  • France’s Kylian Mbappe will be looking to become only the second teenager to score in a W. Cup final after Pele in 1958. Mbappe (3 goals) is already the highest scoring teenager in a W. Cup tournament since Pele (6 in 1958).
  • Olivier Giroud has yet to have a single shot on target at this W. Cup despite playing 465 minutes for France. Since 1966, no player has had more attempts (13) in a single tournament without getting one on target.
  • Didier Deschamps is looking to become the third person to win the W. Cup as a player and as manager after Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer. He’s won 73% of his games at the W. Cup (8 out of 11), the best ratio for a manager having taken charge of more than 10 games at the tournament.
  • Only France’s Antoine Griezmann (2 goals, 2 assists) has been directly involved in more goals than Mario Mandzukic (2 goals, 1 assist) in the knockout stages of the 2018 W. Cup.
  • Ivan Perisic has been involved in 10 goals at major tournaments for Croatia (6 goals, 4 assists), the joint-most along with Davor Suker (9 goals, 1 assist).
  • If Raphael Varane plays, he’ll become the fifth French player to have played in both the Champions League and W. Cup finals in the same year, after Thierry Henry (2006), Zinedine Zidane, Didier Deschamps and Christian Karembeu (all 1998). Varane was victorious in the Champions League, while of the other four only Karembeu was triumphant in both finals.

France Team News

Hugo Lloris (Tottenham Hotspur), Steve Mandanda (Marseille), Alphonse Areola (Paris Saint-Germain), Lucas Hernandez (Atletico Madrid), Presnel Kimpembe (Paris Saint-Germain), Benjamin Mendy (Manchester City), Benjamin Pavard (Stuttgart), Adil Rami (Marseille), Djibril Sidibe (Monaco), Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona), Raphael Varane (Real Madrid), N’Golo Kante (Chelsea), Blaise Matuidi (Juventus), Steven N’Zonzi (Sevilla), Paul Pogba (Manchester United), Corentin Tolisso (Bayern Munich), Ousmane Dembele (Barcelona), Nabil Fekir (Lyon), Olivier Giroud (Chelsea), Antoine Griezmann (Atletico Madrid), Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain), Thomas Lemar (Monaco), Florian Thauvin (Marseille)

Croatia Team News

Daniel Subasic (Monaco), Lovre Kalinic (Gent), Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Ivan Strinic (Sampdoria), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kiev), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), Duje Caleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Marcelo Brozovic (Internazionale), Filip Bradaric (Rijeka), Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Ivan Perisic (Internazionale), Nikola Kalinic (AC Milan), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Marko Pjaca (Schalke), Ante Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Words by @dominictrant