ScandiBet - World Cup Final Preview
After a long and winding tournament, we are now at the end, with just two games remaining; the bronze and the gold final we really got to enjoy every moment. 32 teams have been cut down to just 2 over the course of four weeks and only the strongest remain. The chances of your favourite team being in the final might be slim but it will still be a game worth watching. Join us as we take a closer look at the two teams’ journey to the final and the player we believe will be the most vital for each of them in the big game.
France – The only favourite to deliver
France was by many seen as a huge favourite ahead of the World Cup along with Brazil, Germany and Spain. The three others flopped at various stages of the tournament and they all had their World Cups deemed as failures, with Germany of course being the most disappointed. France had a more or less comfortable group stage in which they collected 7 points. But at the time they did not look like upcoming world champions, their game lacked something. Moving into the knockout phase they started to step it up increasingly and their 4-3 win over Argentina in the last 16 was a game to remember, both for the great attacking and bad defending shown by both teams. Moving into the quarters they had to overcome a Uruguay who, fortunately for France, were missing their star striker in Cavani. As the game progressed there were fewer and fewer doubts about who was the better side and France played a near perfect game and won 2-0. Waiting in the semis were an intimidating Belgium side, full of confidence after knocking out Brazil. A very close game panned out but France showed their experience, strength and determination as they grabbed a 1-0 win after scoring on a set piece. They are by all means worthy finalists and will give their opponents a lot to think about as they look as complete as a football team comes, with world class in absolutely every position.
Kylian Mbappe – His second revelation
19 years old Kylian Mbappe has been one of the most talked-about names in football over the past year and a half. He really made a name for himself while playing for AS Monaco before he was included in the future plans of clubs such as Real Madrid and Manchester City, but in the end, it was PSG who finally managed to land a €180m deal and get him to the club. In the upcoming season he kept showing what he was capable of, linking up with new teammates Cavani and Neymar and growing as a player and human being. A year after becoming the second most expensive player in the history he is now tearing it up in the World Cup for France. Ahead of the final he has 3 goals in the tournament, 2 of which came against Argentina in the game in which he took a massive step further into the adult football world. Now he is on everybody’s lips and will have a lot of pressure on his shoulders before the game against Croatia. He has the speed, dribbling and finishing to tear any defence apart and will get a lot of help from the rest of France’s impressive squad. At such a young age he is sure to get many chances to prove his worth in the future as he grows and matures, but for France it’s right here and right now that matters, as World Cup finals are as rare as it gets.
Croatia – The dark horse
In the summer of 1998, the Croatian national football team delivered the arguably most impressive feat in the country’s short history; finishing second in the World Cup. Now, exactly 20 years later, Modric, Rakitic, Mandzukic, Subasic and many other hard-working Croatian players have taken it one step further by securing what in the worst-case scenario will be a second place in the 2018 World Cup. This is history in the making for the tiny nation of just 4 million inhabitants and it’s uniting them all. The group stage always seemed a bit too simple for Croatia as they got through the three games with nine points and just one goal conceded. In the last 16, things got a bit trickier as they had to overcome Denmark in a penalty shootout. Subasic, the goalkeeper ended up being the big hero and into the quarter finals they went. A new opponent, Russia, a new 120 minutes of football and a new penalty shootout followed and once again they were victorious even though some of their players looked as if they would never play another game. In the semis they were once again challenged, this time by England and the game long looked lost for the Croats before they once again managed to send the game into extra time but this time they secured the win before a penalty shootout was necessary. Now they will face the biggest challenge of them all in the final, and the players will need to get every bit of rest they can harvest before the game as they have spent a lot more energy to get here than their French counterparts. Predicted by many to be the dark horse ahead of this tournament, Croatia has been exactly that and they show how they love being the underdogs and striking from below. It will take a heavy strike to take out France but there seems to be nothing this team can’t do at the moment.
Luka Modric – One last trick?
At an age of almost 33 years old, Luka Modric is still by many seen as the greatest midfielder in the world. His vision, ball control and magic right foot has put him right at the top of the world and his years in Real Madrid has produced 4 Champions League trophies and much more. Now an even greater trophy is within his reach and the proud Croatia captain will as always do anything in his power to win. But as many could tell, 3x 120 minutes so far in the knockouts has taken its toll on Modric who at the end of the game against England barely could stand upright. When he did stand upright however, he kept knocking those magnificent accurate passes all around and created chances at will. It is no secret that this current Croatia squad is fully dependent on their captain as he has been one of the best players of this entire tournament. Sadly, it’s also no secret that Modric is unlikely to play another World Cup, it’s now or never for the magician and all of Croatia are waiting for his one last trick for the national team. It’s his greatest dream to lift this trophy and he is certainly capable of leading his nation to victory, but the road there will be immensely tough.
It’s Lloris vs Subasic, Varane vs Vidic, Pogba vs Modric, Mbappe vs Mandzukic, it’s quite simply France vs Croatia and it’s the biggest game of the year. We can guarantee a game full passion, great football and hopefully lots of goals. Remember to tune in on Sunday afternoon and witness history in the making. Another game worth watching will be the bronze final between Belgium and England on Saturday as these are two teams capable of bringing a lot of excitement and entertainment to the table.
Enjoy the World Cup finals with ScandiBet!