France vs. Croatia: match preview, team news, predicted line-ups and more
For those watching in England, there will be an unavoidable sense of what could’ve been, after the Croatians came from behind to eliminate the Three Lions in the semi-final.
But France will be the favourites having beaten Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium on their route to the final.
This is Les Bleus’ second major final in as many years, and they were favourites when they lost the 2016 European Championship final to Portugal in Paris as well.
For Croatia, it’s the first World Cup final in their history and they have fired out a warning to anyone who underestimates the little nation of just four million people.
They were denied a place in 1998 final after France, who went on to win that year, knocked them out in an ill-tempered semi-final.
20 years on, they find themselves with an opportunity for the sweetest vengeance.
There will be superstars all over the park in a match with the potential to provide a spectacular end to an extraordinary tournament.
Didier Deschamps (France): “There is a spirit in the squad that can move mountains. They are young and they will be even stronger in two and four years’ time.
“We have created an opportunity to become world champions but we are still not there. But we want to fulfil our destiny.”
Zlatko Dalic (Croatia): “At this World Cup, the star-studded teams relying on the big names are already on the beach. It’s the compact, united teams fighting for something that are still around.
“It’s been the strangest World Cup. Football has advanced so much so any team can have a well-organised defence, so there are no huge winning margins and the team is everything.
“This was our problem for 10 years, we had great individuals but no unity and that’s why I had to build that unity of purpose in the team.”
Paul Pogba (France): “I am not going to lie. At the Euros, we thought that it was already done. We told ourselves that we had won already after beating Germany, that was the real final for us.
“We are aware of that now. We don’t want to repeat the same mistake. We will prepare differently. We really want to win this final.”
Ivan Rakitic (Croatia): “I had a fever, almost 39 degrees [before the semi-final].
“I was lying in bed finding the strength to play and it was worth it. I would play a final without a leg if necessary.”
French midfielder Blaise Matuidi has recovered from a heavy collision with Eden Hazard and is fit to play.
Croatia have played 120 minutes in all three knockout games, and Dalic will need to assess the fitness of his squad with fatigue likely to be an issue.
Ivan Perisic, who was outstanding for Croatia in the semi-final, is reportedly struggling with a thigh injury.
It is worth noting that France have won all of their games in 90 minutes and also have an extra day to rest between the semis and the final.
France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez; Pogba, Kante; Mbappe, Griezmann, Matuidi; Giroud
Croatia: Subasic; Vrsajlko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Modric, Brozovic, Rakitic; Perisic, Mandzukic, Rebic