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2018 World Cup final, France vs. Croatia: What we learned

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France won with a younger golden generation, and the future is still bright.

France v Croatia - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

The 2018 World Cup is in the books, and France is the winners after a 4-2 victory over Croatia. From Paris to Nice, the French are celebrating their 2nd World Cup trophy 20 years after their first one was delivered. Croatia didn’t play terribly, but they just ran up against a team on a mission that played well enough to achieve it.

So, what did we learn from the World Cup final?

France’s core isn’t going anywhere. Les Bleus was phenomenal with a core of Kylian Mbappé, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann, Benjamin Pavard, N’Golo Kanté, and Samuel Umtiti. And, most of them are very young. That core is what propelled them to a 2nd World Cup title, and that core will be around 4 years from now. They’re set up for future success, and it’s going to be incredible to watch them get better over the coming years.

Own Goal capped one of the most prolific goal-scoring performances in soccer history. Own Goal set a new record for scoring at the World Cup, hitting the back of the net 12 times, including the first goal of the World Cup final. it’s wonderful to see a guy who led D.C. United in scoring in 2013 come back in a big way on the world’s biggest stage. Seriously, the number of goals deflected into the back of the net for own goals contributed to the craziness that was the 2018 World Cup. We may never see another performance like it again.

Croatia may have lost its best shot, but they still will compete for years to come. Croatia completely dazzled for much of the World Cup, not losing a match until yesterday’s final. With players like Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić, Ivan Perišić, Dejan Lovren, Mario Mandžukić, Domagoj Vida, and Milan Badelj hovering around or on the wrong side of 30, this may have been the best chance for Croatia to bring a World Cup trophy home with this generation of players. Still, several of their players have many years left of playing at a world class level, so they will expect to compete in Europe and the world moving forward. This match may not have put them in the history books as a World Cup winner, but they’re back on the map of contenders.

The World Cup is now complete, and Les Bleus will hold the title of World Cup champions for the next 4.5 years. I’m not sure what we will do, but we can look back and remark at a well-played final for both sides, with the best team emerging victorious.