France V Croatia: What You Need To Know For The World Cup Final
Four years of waiting comes down to just one game, as France and Croatia go for glory in the World Cup final.
In the early hours of Monday morning, another chapter in the history of sport will be written, with the final of the 2018 World Cup.
After what will be 63 games in what has been the strangest World Cup to date (including poor Belgium and England in the game no one wants to contest -- the third place play-off), it all comes down to France and Croatia.
The two teams play very different styles, France love a long ball to their strikers while Croatia's magic midfield dance around their opposition, and their paths to the final couldn't have been any more different.
Firm favourites going into the tournament, Les Bleus have proven why with a tough but convincing run to the final.
The French topped Group C, with wins over Australia and Peru, and a deadrubber draw with Denmark.
They made history for being the first team to have a penalty awarded by VAR at a World Cup, with Griezmann awarded a spot kick against Australia in what was a shaky start for the French. They won 2-1, but in what was arguably the Socceroos' best game, they were put the to test.
Peru also caused problems with their fast play, and were unlucky to lose 1-0 to France despite seeing more of the ball.
The French had the only 0-0 draw of the tournament against Denmark with both teams sure to progress to the knockout stages with a tie.
Despite being on the 'tough side of the draw', the French had a fairly easy run into the final, despite an initial hurdle.
Their round of 16 game against Argentina was one of the matches of the tournament. The seven-goal thriller went down to the wire, but the French held on despite a last gasp charge from the Argentines.
Their quarter-final match against a well-performing Uruguay was touted as one of the most tightly-contested games of the tournament, but fizzled with a convincing 2-0 win for the French.
The French brushed aside Belgium in the semi-finals with another 2-0 win, but were accused by Belgian goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois of playing 'anti-football'.
But France won't be complaining as they booked their spot in the final.
Pace. A quick front line-up give the opposition little chance to catch them when attacking on the counter. The French backline is also solid -- walls have been easier to break down than these guys.
Cut off the long ball to Kylian Mbappe and the French are in trouble. They have struggled to create chances from the middle, and striker Olivier Giroud has yet to register a goal in six games.
The Croatians were a dark horse team -- with one of the best midfields in the game they are a side that has underachieved in recent years.
But the Vatreni have clearly shaken off any doubters and were one of the best teams in the group stages, topping Group D with three wins.
A convincing 2-0 win over Nigeria was only bettered by a 3-0 slaying of Argentina, running riot with their creativity and vision all over the pitch.
They conceded their first goal of the tournament against Iceland, but remained undefeated with a 2-1 win.
However the knock-out stages weren't quite as easy for the Croatians.
They suffered a nightmare start against Denmark, conceding a goal after just 57 seconds, but were back in the match just three minutes later. A penalty shootout where both keepers stole the show followed extra time, and Croatia progressed.
Against tournament hosts Russia the match went into the most thrilling-of-extra-times the World Cup has seen, with both sides scoring. The Croatians went into another penalty shoot out and once again goalkeeper Danijel Subašić was the man of the moment.
An emotional semi-final against England didn't seem to be going to plan, conceding in just the fifth minute. But the Croatians rallied and sent yet another match into extra time. A history-making goal in the 109th minute sent Croatia to their first ever World Cup final.
They may be in the final, but Croatian fans have lost years off their life with stress.
Luka Modric. The tiny magician is a shoe-in for the Golden Ball, and has dominated the midfield at this World Cup. The Croatians have also not relied on any one player for goals -- eight separate players have scored and none more than twice.
With all three of their knockout games going to extra time they have played an extra 90 minutes (or one full game) more than the French and those legs will be weary.