The clash between France and Croatia will be played at the Luzhniki Arena in Moscow on July 15th. The two rivals met on five occasions since 1998, and Croatia is searching for the first victory over the Blues, but it’s going to be extremely hard to get it done.
France vs. Croatia
Three-Way: 1: France -111; X: +229 Draw; 2: Croatia +400 (Odds provided by Delaware Park Sportsbook)
Spread -0.5: France -104; Croatia -103
Total 3 goals: Over +170; Under -227
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The Blues didn’t impress in the group stage despite finishing at the top ahead of Denmark, but their performance was somewhat better in the Round of 16 clashes with Argentina, defeating them 4-3 before cruising to a 2-0 win over Uruguay in the quarter-finals. Although France’s defense wasn’t convincing in the tilt with the Albiceleste, they improved a lot in the next two games against Uruguay and Belgium in the semis.
In addition, Raphael Varane and Samuel Umtiti found the back of the net in those games, directly helping Didier Deschamps’ side to secure wins, while they were rock solid in the defense on the other end, keeping the net intact for 180 minutes in total. The Blues weren’t quite effective in the offense, but they scored goals when they needed them the most, and that proved to be enough to progress to the finals.
On the other hand, the Blazers struggled to defeat Denmark and Russia in the regular 90 minutes, but the important thing is that they were luckier in the penalty shootout on both occasions, thanks to the goalkeeper Danijel Subasic whose heroics practically propelled Croatia to the finals. Croatia was 1-0 down after the opening 45 minutes in the game against England, but they didn’t panic and kept the cool heads in a 2-1 comeback victory.
Ivan Perisic equalized the score in the 68th minute as he exploited the small gap between two defenders, and since that point, the Three Lions acted like a beheaded beast, without clear tactics and plan to force the tilt into the penalty shootout. Mario Mandzukic prevented them in that intent in the 109th minute with a fine finish following a mistake from John Stones, who miscalculated the situation in the deciding moment.
Players to watch
Kylian Mbappe didn’t have the best of times against Belgium even though he was France’s most agile player in the first half against Belgium, but this matchup should be favorable to him as he possesses a great speed. Croatian full-backs are certainly not the low-quality players and will try to keep Mbappe at bay, but if someone is destined to win the trophy for the French, it’s the exciting teenager.
Luka Modric will battle Ngolo Kante and Paul Pogba in the midfield, and although he will have the support of Ivan Rakitic, Real Madrid’s playmaker should be the Blazers’ primary weapon on this one. After winning the Champions League this seasons, Modric would like to bring an eternal joy to his people and he has the quality to make it happen.
France: Lloris; Pavard, Umtiti, Varane, Lucas; Kante, Pogba, Matuidi (Tolisso), Griezmann, Mbappe; Giroud.
Croatia: Subasic; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic; Rakitic, Brozovic; Rebic, Modric, Perisic; Mandzukic.
France is a favorite to win at -111, and they never suffered a defeat to Croatia in the previous five meetings, and I don’t think they will lose now. Reaching the finals is the dream come true for the Blazers, but I don’t believe they are good enough to cope with the Frenchmen.
The Pick: France to win (-111)