After 32 days of exhilarating football, the 2018 World Cup in Russia will be concluded on Sunday when France take on Croatia in the showpiece final at the Stadion Luzhniki, Moscow.
France come into the tie as favourites to win a second title, but face a talented Croatia side that has continued to defy the odds in this World Cup for the ages.
Les Blues lead the head-to-head with 29 victories to Croatia’s 11, and importantly they edged the Croats en route their sole triumph on home soil in 1998.
Didier Deschamps side are blessed with an abundance of technically gifted players, but teenager Kylian Mbappe has emerged as their greatest weapon, scoring three goals in six games as he looks to fill the boots of the great Zinedine Zidane.
Favouring the counter-attack, the French will also depend greatly on the superhuman ball-winning ability of N’Golo Kante, with Antoine Griezmann providing guile going forward.
Croatia meanwhile, will once again bank on their world-class midfield duo of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, with additional threat from striker Mario Mandzukic wing wizard Ivan Perisic.
What they are Saying
“You have to live with your times,” Deschamps told the press. “I never ever, ever mention my own history. They know it. Some of them were not born but they have seen pictures. That’s it. It belongs to a lot of French people who lived through it.
“The story is different now. I can’t make comparisons, I can’t talk to them about players from 20 years ago or even 10 years ago. I am here with them to write a new page in history, a most beautiful page.”
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic hopes their string of upsets continues as they secure what would be a historic maiden World Cup title for their country
“We prepared to get to the final and we want to play it. Going to extra-time might be a problem along with the fact France have had an extra day to recover but there will be no excuses. We have to play as if this were the first game in this tournament.”
France are likely to field an unchanged starting XI, with Blaise Matuidi expected to be fit despite going off injured against Belgium.
Croatia should be able to start with Ivan Strinic and Mario Mandzukic despite both going off with injuries against England.
Kick-off: 17H00 (4:00pm Local time)
Venue: Stadion Luzhniki
Referee: Nestor Pitana