If we are being honest, the vast majority of Americans stopped caring about the 2018 FIFA World Cup when Team USA was shockingly eliminated from qualifying for the biggest sporting event in the world on October 10, 2017, when it lost at little Trinidad and Tobago. Fox has the American TV rights to this year’s World Cup, and that has been a disaster for the network as ratings have plummeted in the USA without the Americans in the tournament.
The World Cup final matchup is Sunday in Moscow, and there could have been one matchup that would have drawn pretty solid interest here in the United States: England vs. France or the “Battle for the Chunnel.” This country was born from England and the Brits and French are two of our biggest allies.
France did its part in Tuesday’s semifinal with a 1-0 victory over Belgium, but England couldn’t join the party on Wednesday as it was upset as a slight betting favorite at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com by Croatia 2-1 in extra time. It’s the first World Cup final for Croatia, the second-smallest country by population to get there (Uruguay).
France is in the final for the first time since 2006, when it lost to Italy. The French won their only other trip to the final in 1998 on home soil, routing Brazil 3-0. France’s captain then, Didier Deschamps, is now the national team’s head coach.
On the soccer odds, France is a -115 betting favorite for Sunday’s match with Croatia at +370 and a regulation draw at +230. Purely on talent, Les Bleus should win with the likes of Antoine Griezmann, Paul Pogba and 19-year-old sensation Kylian Mbappe, perhaps the next Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi. Hugo Lloris is one of the best goalkeepers in the world and hasn’t allowed one past him in the past two matches.
Deschamps will become the fourth manager to play in a World Cup final and manage in one.
Croatia, meanwhile, is both good and perhaps lucky as it is just the second team in World Cup history to play three straight extra-time matches at a single World Cup. The Croats began the knockout stage with a penalty kick win over Denmark and then won the same way against host Russia before beating England before it got to PKs, rallying from an early 1-0 deficit.
Croatia, whose star is Real Madrid’s Luka Modric, was only the seventh team to win a World Cup semifinal after trailing during the match.
France is 3-0-2 all-time against Croatia. The sides last played in a friendly in March 2011 in Paris, a scoreless draw. The only World Cup meeting was the 1998 semifinals, won by the French 2-1.
For more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top World Cup betting news check out the OddsShark FC podcast with Andrew Avery, Rob Trites, and Craig Cormier. Subscribe on iTunes or listen to it at OddsSharkFC.libsyn.com.