It’s finally here! The 2018 FIFA World Cup final, France vs Croatia, will crown the new world champions in Moscow, Russia, this Sunday.
Time will stand still as the two finalists fight with everything they have to create legends and histories of their own. No amount of emphasis on this match could do justice to it. This is it. It does not get bigger than this.
Both teams have played brilliantly, and defeated other great teams to reach the FIFA World Cup final. Their stories, however, are almost polar opposites. While the French were always thought of as one of the favourites to win the cup, the Croatians have been ‘dark horses’ all along.
Even though many consider this Croatia’s ‘golden generation’, most didn’t expect them to be able to reach this far. In fact, this is the first time ever that the young nation has reached the World Cup final!
France have always been a strong force in World Cup history. They have won the World Cup once, in 1998, when they happened to be the host nation as well. It was one Zinedine Zidane who inspired French victory by scoring two goals in the final against the mighty Brazilians.
The journey so far for Croatia and France
Both teams have remained undefeated throughout the tournament. But that by no means implies that the path to the FIFA World Cup final has been easy for either of the two.
France faced Argentina, Uruguay, and fellow favourites Belgium in the knockout stages of the tournament. In fact, France was able to win all its knockout games in regular time, within 90 minutes, which goes on to show their dominance in the tournament.
Croatia saw all of their three knockout matches go to extra time, with two going on to penalties. Being able to win the matches in regular time is great, but being able to do it in extra time and penalties requires so much more effort. Croatia surpassed Denmark and hosts Russia on penalties, and England in extra time to reach the final.
The Croatian players seem to thrive on pressure, which is visible in their ability to remain composed in the most tense situations.
France’s team is every manager’s dream come true. It is exceptionally well-balanced, with a bench full of world-class stars. Croatia, on the other hand, do not have quite the star-studded team France have. However, the Croatian side has a seamless chemistry which might be hard to tackle, even for the French.
The French have threatened and destroyed with their lethal attack, which comprises the tall and strong Olivier Giroud, the young and impressive Kylian Mbappe, and their reliable talisman, Antionne Griezmann.
As if this were not enough, their midfield, which comprises of Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante, has been dubbed by many pundits as the most complete midfield. To top it all off, France have the experienced and dependable Hugo Lloris, who has made many crucial saves throughout the group and knockout stages, as a goalkeeper.
Croatia has surprised the footballing world with its dynamic play and consistent performances. A different player seems to bail them out every time they find themselves in trouble. It has been a fabulous team effort, to say the least.
The mid-field has impressed beyond praise. Luka Modric has been a fantastic leader and playmaker, while Ivan Rakitic, Ivan Perisic, and Dejan Lovren have all excelled in their roles. Croatian shot-stopper Daniel Subasic has been simply amazing, having helped Croatia win two penalty shootouts.
The World Cup final is more than just a game
The FIFA World Cup final will be a ‘clash of the titans,’ for the lack of a better way to put it. Croatia will be looking to complete in style the fairy tale that this world cup has been for them. France, on the other hand, will be looking to clinch a title win, fresh at the heels of the Euro 2016, where they lost to Portugal in the final.
Needless to say, the stakes of are high as can be. Emotions will run high as the two teams relentlessly strive for glory. The final is so much more than a match. It is the most important game for the careers of those 22 players.
This is also the moment when the entire world comes together and watches a game of football. Race, gender, caste, religion are all forgotten. The only thing that matters is the 90 minutes of the FIFA World Cup final which separate the champions from those who came so, so close.
The beauty of this game that we all love lies not in what it is, but in what it means and what it does. It means more than just a game. It means hopes, dreams, togetherness and most importantly, love. I urge you all to watch this game with your loved ones, and think about global connectedness and togetherness.
For those 90 minutes, plus stoppage time, as all commentators irresistibly say, we are ONE.