It’s the match we’ve waited four years to see. Tomorrow, a World Cup champion is crowned in Moscow as France will take the field against Croatia. To the winner goes the World Cup trophy, a 15.2 inch, 13.5 lb gold statue that will feel like heaven to the players who win the right to lift it. The loser will spend a lifetime wondering what could have been, what bounces didn’t go their way, and how close they got to lifting the trophy that any soccer player dreams of holding.
Croatia’s path to Moscow was as the winner of Group D, defeating Nigeria, Argentina, and Iceland to cap a perfect group stage. The knockout stage for them has been a testament to their strength, their determination, and their conditioning. It took penalties for them to get past Denmark and Russia, becoming the first team in World Cup history to win consecutive penalty shootouts in the knockout stage. In the semifinals, it took another 120 minutes, but they outlasted England to make it to the final.
Croatia has a chance to win its first World Cup title, while France hopes it brings home number 2 and they party like it’s 1998. Only one will get the gold medals, the trophy, and the ultimate accomplishment on their playing resume.
What to watch for
Who will win the midfield battle? The key battle Sunday will be in the midfield, as Croatia and France both have excellent creators and distributors. On Croatia’s side, Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, and Ivan Perišić have been sensational, but France boasts a midfield including Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappé. No doubt, this will be the matchup to watch, and one of these players will be a major factor in the match.
Which stars will shine brightest? The World Cup final is a moment that can define the career of a player. Which one of these stars will seize the moment and deliver a performance that will live on in history? Which will buckle under the pressure?
Can Croatia overcome heavy legs? Croatia has advanced to the final by playing 3 matches that have gone at least 120 minutes. That is taxing on the legs, and having to repeat that every 3-4 days will put their conditioning to the test. The good thing is that they won’t have to play again after Sunday, so they will need to channel every ounce of energy they have left to be ready.
How to Watch
France vs. Croatia
Location: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Kick-off time: Sunday, July 15th, 11:00am Eastern, 8:00am Pacific
Available TV: Fox (English), Telemundo (Spanish)