France are the 2018 world champions after defeating Croatia 4-2 in a stunning World Cup Final. The game was always expected to be explosive with Les Bleus coming up against one of the most well-organised sides of the tournament, and yet, Croatia weren’t able to do enough to prevent the French from coming away with their second ever World Cup title. Didier Deschamps is just the third man to win the World Cup as both a player and a manager, and he did so in style.
One of the biggest criticisms surrounding France as a team was that they never really seemed to get out of first gear throughout the course of their time in Russia, but on the biggest stage of them all at the Luzhniki Stadium, they tore through the Croats after a first half that was full of controversy.
Antoine Griezmann was judged to have been fouled just after the quarter-hour mark, allowing the man himself to curl a free-kick into the ball that was deflected in off the head of Mario Mandzukic for the first own goal in the history of the World Cup Final. From that point on it seemed as if France would shut up shop defensively as they have done on so many different occasions, but Croatia were able to find the equaliser when Ivan Perisic slotted a fantastic shot into the bottom right-hand corner.
Alas, another controversial decision gave France the lead once again, when Perisic himself handled the ball in the box and a penalty was given after a consultation with VAR. Heading into the second half it seemed like the underdogs would come out fighting, and while that did prove to be the case, France stepped things up a notch to the point where Croatia were never going to be able to catch them.
Paul Pogba struck one in from long range before teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe wrapped up the Young Player of the Tournament award with his own fine effort, cementing himself as the heir to the ‘Messi & Ronaldo’ throne. A poor error from the otherwise fantastic Hugo Lloris allowed Mario Mandzukic to close the gap, but as the minutes ticked away, France played the ball around like only they know how en-route to capturing their second world championship.
France: Lloris (5), Pavard (6.5), Varane (7), Umtiti (7), Hernandez (7), Mbappe (8.5), Pogba (9), Kante (5.5), Matuidi (6.5), Griezmann (8), Giroud (6.5)
Croatia: Subasic (4.5), Vrsaljko (6.5), Lovren (5.5), Vida (6), Strinic (5.5), Brozovic (6), Rebic (6.5), Modric (6.5), Rakitic (6), Perisic (7), Mandzukic (6.5)
Referee: Néstor Pitana
Goals: Mandzukic (OG), Griezmann, Pogba, Mbappe :: Perisic, Mandzukic
Yellow Cards: Hernandez, Kante, Vrsaljko
Red Cards: N/A
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