France will take on Croatia in the showpiece of the biggest football event on earth, the 2018 World Cup final on Sunday in Russia.
This is the third all-European final in the past four World Cups, and Croatia is a debutant at this stage, being the 13th nation to reach a World Cup final. The French will be seeking for their second World Cup crown since 1998 while Croatia their first.
The two nations have met once before in the FIFA World Cup: at France 1998. It was Croatia’s first appearance at the tournament, and France’s second event as hosts. They met in the semi-final which saw Croatia take the lead through Davor Suker, only to be denied a place in the final by two goals from Les Bleus’ right-back Lilian Thuram.
They have met a total of five times since 1998. France have the edge with 3 wins to Croatia’s 0 wins and two draws between them. Their most recent meeting was an International Friendly game in 2011, which ended in a 0-0 draw in Paris.
Ivan Rakitic has set one world record already for this season. The game against England was his 70th match this season. No one in the world has played more than him! He has played 55 games for Barcelona and 15 for Croatia so far. The biggest yet is next.
Croatia’s Captain Luka Modric or France defender Raphael Varane will become only the ninth player to play on the winning team in the FIFA World Cup and UEFA Champions League finals in the same year.
Dejan Lovren is set to become only the second player to play in the Champions League final for an English club, and the World Cup final in the same year (after Thierry Henry in 2006).
This is Croatia’s first World Cup final. The 1998 tournament remains their most historical campaign at the tournament when they finished in third place and their striker Davor Šuker was the top scorer with 6 goals.
Argentinian referee Nestor Pitana, who officiated the Opening Match at Russia 2018, will be in charge of the Final at the Luzhniki Stadium.
He has already refereed four matches at Russia 2018, taking charge of Russia v Saudi Arabia (Opening Game) and Mexico v Sweden in the group stages, the Round of 16 match between Croatia and Denmark, as well as the quarter-final between Uruguay and France.
He will be assisted by fellow countrymen Hernan Maidana and Juan Belatti as the first and second assistants. Bjorn Kuipers and Erwin Zeinstra from the Netherlands will be the fourth official and reserve assistant referees respectively.
The final will take place at 6pm in Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday, 15 July.
Road to the final:
France: Topped Group C with 7 points. Defeated Argentina 4-3 in the round of 16. Defeated Uruguay 2-0 in the quarters and defeated Belgium 1-0 in the semifinal.
Croatia: Topped Group D with maximum 9 points. Defeated Denmark 3-2 in penalties after a 1-1 draw in the round of 16. Defeated Russia 4-3 in penalties after a 2-2 draw in the quarters and defeated England 2-1 in extra time of the semifinal.
France: Parvard, Umtiti, Varane, Hernandez, Pogba, Kante, Mbappe, Griezmann, Giroud.
Croatia: Subasic (GK), Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Rakitic, Modric, Rebic, Kramaric, Perisic, Mandzukic.