Expect little change from France and Croatia as they submit their final lineups for the World Cup final. Fortunately for teams and fans alike, neither team has major injuries or suspensions heading into Sunday.
France vs. Croatia Squads
France did see Blaise Matuidi suffer a knock against Belgium, but coach Didier Deschamps has noted that Matuidi is recovered and should remain in the starting lineup. Matuidi was also forced to miss the quarterfinal match against Uruguay, but has otherwise been solid in midfield alongside Paul Pogba and Ngolo Kante.
That matchup in the middle is the key to this final. Croatia run through Perisic, Rakitic and Modric, who could find things tight against France’s physical front.
Ivan Rakitic, who endured a fever before the semifinal win over England, assured that missing a match at this stage is out of the question.
“I was lying in bed finding the strength to play and it was worth it,” Rakitic told reporters after defeating England. “I would play a final without a leg if necessary.”
Even if Croatia don’t have any major injuries to list, it’s not a surprise the squad is a little banged up. Croatia have played three straight come-from-behind 120 minute matches, and yet are the smallest country to play in a World Cup final.
It’s the third time in the final for France, but this is a massive moment for tiny Croatia. It’s a third final in six Cups for France, but this is Croatia’s fifth trip to the tournament in the nation’s history. It’s truly quite an achievement for Croatia, as expressed by their coach Zlatko Dalic.
“It is the World Cup final. The players know what that means,” said Dalic earlier this week. One thing that makes me happy is that all my players tell me whether they are not 100 per cent. If they will be unable to give their all during the match I expect them to tell us.”
“Win or lose tomorrow there will be a seismic event (in Croatia). This gives us strength and motivation. There can be no better moment for a player or a coach than tomorrow. Whatever happens, we will be happy and proud because we deserved it.”
France are the major odds favorite, but those covering the team can’t help but compare this run to Euro 2016. That’s where France, as host nation no less, went into the final as huge favorites only to lose 1-0 to Portugal in a stunning upset. This team is a juggernaut, having trailed for just nine minutes and change during the tournament,
“Finals have to be won, because we have still not got over the one we lost two years ago,” Deschamps told reporters candidly earlier this week.
The big change for France between these two tournaments is undoubtedly youth. France are the second-youngest team in the tournament with an average age of 26, and it’s been young players like Mbappe and Samuel Umtiti leading the new movement.
That youth is a risk against the maturity of Croatia (see England), but those players have the spark to make fireworks in Moscow on Sunday.
France vs. Croatia Lineups
Lineups are released one hour before kickoff
France: Lloris, Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez, Pogba, Kante, Mbappe, Griezmann, Matuidi, Giroud
Croatia: Subasic, Vrsaljko, Strinic, Lovren, Vida, Rakitic, Modric, Brozovic, Perisic, Mandzukic, Rebic