But which has the edge when it comes to the different lines and more? Let’s break the matchup down piece by piece.
Why: Both teams have some fantastic players, 10 of which play in what I think is the top league in the world, La Liga. But there’s no doubt France has more talent. From young star Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann up top to a midfield led by one of the best central defensive midfielders in the world in N’Golo Kante alongside Paul Pogba, the team is superb. But when you add that the French have one of the top goalkeepers in Hugo Lloris and a central defensive pairing in Barcelona star Samuel Umtiti and Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane, you just see a team oozing with talent. Croatia has Dejan Lovren in defense. That’s all you need to know.
Why: Look, I think Danijel Subasic is a fine goalkeeper. He’s been so good for Monaco over the years and can pull off some massive saves. He’s also shown how good he can be against penalty kicks, but Hugo Lloris is of a different breed. The Tottenham man is one of the top 3-5 goalkeepers in the world right now.
Why: Umtiti and Varane are simply bigger, stronger and better than Domagoj Vida and Lovren. The Croatian defense isn’t a bad pair by any means, but France’s is so much quicker and better. That doesn’t mean this will be one-sided, but the clear edge goes to Les Bleus.
Why: I love what Kante brings, and he can stop Luka Modric. He’s that good. But Modric and Rakitic are top-tier midfielders and better in attack than France is. While France has the edge defensively in the middle, it doesn’t have an edge in attack. Modric can control a match for 90 minutes with his turns and superior passing, but he’s going to have to be sharp against Kante, who will be out to wreck his world.
Why: Griezmann is great, Olivier Giroud is solid, Kylian Mbappe is a superstar, but Croatia is complete in the final third as well. The Croatians don’t have a player in attack better than Griezmann or Mbappe — they really don’t have anyone close — but they are so dangerous with Mario Mandzukic’s poacher ability and Ivan Perisic on the wing. Perisic, the Inter Milan star, could be the difference in this match. I think France will win, but entering this one I like what Croatia has in attack just as much as what France has because of Croatia’s experience playing together and chemistry on the field.
Why: Didier Deschamps is more experienced and the bigger name, and he’s gotten his team to finally play well, but Zlatko Dalic has worked wonders at Croatia.
France is just too talented, and they are on a roll. The country wins its second World Cup crown in regulation, with a dynamic attack threatening time and time against until a late winner comes from Kylian Mbappe.
France 2, Croatia 1.