The 2018 FIFA World Cup Final Preview: France vs Croatia Showdown

The 2018 FIFA World Cup final between France and Croatia:

The competition for national football teams organized by FIFA had its 21st edition in 2018. France and Croatia faced off in a match that was held on July 15, 2018, at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia. Russia, the host nation, and 31 other teams from the six FIFA confederations’ qualifying rounds made up the event. Following a group level of competition for the 32 teams, 16 teams advanced to the knockout event.

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Final Preview: France vs Croatia Showdown

With two victories and a tie in Group C, France qualified first for the final and went on to beat Argentina in the round of 16, Uruguay in the quarterfinal, and Belgium in the semifinal. With three victories, Croatia emerged victorious in Group D. They went on to overcome Denmark in the Round of 16, Russia in the Quarterfinal (both decided by penalty shootouts), and England in the Semi-Final. More than 1.1 billion people watched the final on television, which was officiated by Argentinean Nestor Pitana in front of 78,011 spectators.

First Half

With temperatures reaching 27 °C (81 °F) and 51% humidity, Croatia began the match at 6 p.m. local time (3 p.m. UTC). The throng of 78,011 spectators and the estimated 1.12 billion viewers worldwide witnessed the action. At kickoff, the weather at Sheremetyevo International Airport, which is 30 kilometers (19 km) from the stadium, was described as partly cloudy. A brief thunderstorm that occurred during the game resulted in multiple visible lightning strikes.

Croatia dominated the first fifteen minutes, according to Barry Glendenning of The Guardian, who also observed that France was “struggling to get out of their own half” while Croatia was “bossing them completely.”

However, in the eighteenth minute, France took the lead. When Griezmann was fouled by Marcelo Brozovic, they were awarded a free kick that Griezmann took alone, about 30 yards (27 meters) from goal. The free kick was crossed by him into the penalty area, where it was received by Mandzukic. The ball went past goalkeeper Subasic despite his attempt to head clear, resulting in an own goal—the first ever in a World Cup final.

When N’Golo Kante fouled Perisic in the 28th minute, he was given the first yellow card of the match. A minute later, Perisic was fouled 40 yards (37 m) from goal, and Modric’s free kick towards the far goalpost was headed back across goal by Sime Vrsaljko. Perisic then gathered the ball and struck low into the goal’s corner. This equalized the score for Croatia.

Griezmann took a corner into the penalty area three minutes after the goal by Croatia. Even though Blaise Matuidi’s header attempt was unsuccessful, the France team still requested a penalty because they believed Perisic had handled the ball while marking Matuidi. Pitana was informed by the video assistant referee, and following a lengthy examination of the play, he awarded France a penalty. Griezmann took the penalty in the 38th minute and scored into the left corner with a low effort.

After Paul Pogba deflected Perisic’s attempt at goal for a corner in the 43rd minute, Lucas Hernandez was booked for a foul on Rebic. A little before the break, Croatia had a corner, which Rakiticc took into the penalty area. Vida had a chance to score with his head, but the ball missed the net. Despite having just one shot on goal and 34% of the possession, France led 2-1 at the end of the first half.

Pundits debated the validity of both of France’s goals during the halftime break. Rio Ferdinand and Alan Shearer of BBC One claimed that neither the penalty that resulted in their second goal nor the free kick that led to their first should have been given. Shearer said there was “no way that the hand-ball was deliberate” and called the penalty decision “ridiculous”. On BBC Radio 5 Live, Chris Waddle expressed his opinion that the penalty judgment was justified, adding, “I would have given it.” With his hand, Perisic prevented the ball from passing through.”

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Final Preview: France vs Croatia Showdown

Second Half

Early in the second half, a Croatian attack was halted by security personnel after multiple pitch invaders came onto the field. Pussy Riot, a Russian feminist rock band and protest organization, took credit for the disruption. After Rakitic’s pass, Rebic blasted the ball toward goal from the left side of the penalty area three minutes into the second half, giving Croatia a chance to score.

Hugo Lloris, the French goalkeeper, stopped his shot with one hand, sending it behind for a corner. As Glendenning put it, Croatia was “in a state of total dominance” at the start of the second half.

In the 52nd minute, Mbappe gave France a chance when he received the ball from Pogba and moved down the left side. He shot towards goal after dribbling past Vida, but Subasic was there to grab the ball. Kante was replaced by Steven Nzonzi in the 55th minute, marking a change made by France.

In the 59th minute, they extended their lead once more as Pogba passed from his own half to find Mbappe on the right side. Griezmann returned the ball to Pogba, who was beyond the penalty area, after Mbappe had transferred it to him. After a defender deflected his first attempt at goal back to him, Pogba scored again, this time past Subasic, who was unable to stop it.

Olivier Giroud’s bicycle kick towards Griezmann, who was unmarked in front of goal, gave France an opportunity to extend their advantage in the 63rd minute, but Brozovic was able to regain possession before the ball got to Griezmann. They did score again two minutes later when Mbappe sent a low shot into the Croatian goal from 25 yards (23 meters), past Vida and Subasic.

Pele scored twice at the 1958 World Cup, making Mbappe the only other adolescent to score in a World Cup final. In the 69th minute, Mandzukic punched the loose ball into the open net with his right leg after Lloris failed to dribble it away, giving Croatia their second goal. The game ended in a 4–2 France triumph, the highest scoring World Cup final since 1966 and the first to be won without the need for extra time, despite late Croatian pressure.

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Post Match Stats

With their victory, France became the sixth nation to win the World Cup more than once. After Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer, Deschamps became the third person to win the World Cup in both his roles as manager and player. The final score was the greatest in regular time since 1958 and the highest since 1966. In the midst of a strong downpour, presidents Putin, Macron, and Grabar-Kitarovic gave the medals to both teams on the field. A snippet of the official tournament music, “Live It Up,” was played as French captain Lloris accepted the trophy from FIFA President Gianni Infantino.

As the greatest player of the tournament, Modric, the captain of Croatia, took home the Golden Ball. With four goals and two assists, Griezmann—who was named the game’s man of the match in the end—was also awarded the Bronze Ball and Silver Boot. The tournament’s Best Young Player honor went to Kylian Mbappe.

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