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France vs Croatia

Extra day of rest boosted France


France have reached the World Cup Final for the first time since 2006, as defender Samuel Umtiti scored the winning goal as “Les Bleus” sealed a 1:0 win over Belgium in the semi-final encounter. Striker Olivier Giroud was injured and replaced late in the game, but his injury is not as serious as first feared, and should be able to play in the final.

Croatia have qualified for their first World Cup Final, with a 2:1 win over England in extra-time. As Ivan Perisic’s equaliser made it 1:1 after 90 minutes, Mario Mandzukic then scored the winner for Croatia in the second half of extra time, which led to Croatia’s historical debut in the final. Defender Ivan Strinic, midfielder Luka Modric, semi-final goalscorers Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic all have extent of injuries right now, which Ivan Strinic’s injury seems to be the most serious, as he will be doubtful for the final.

Suspended: None
Doubtful: None
Injured/unavailable: None

Suspended: None
Doubtful: Ivan Strinic
Injured/unavailable: None

Although France have eliminated a weaken Uruguay side in the quarter final, but in football it is normal for the side who performed better to win the match. Since the group stage, France have shown the world how powerful a combination of stable defence and extremely quick counter-attack can be. Maybe a lot of people’s attention or praises will be focusing on the 19 year-old Kylian Mbappe, or the calm and talented Antoine Griezmann, but I actually think that the most lethal part of the France team does not come from their strike force or backline, it is in fact the defensive midfield duo of Paul Pogba and Ngolo Kante that have made the most difference to the team. With the likes of Ngolo Kante, his tackling efficiency is second to none, to a lot of technical players, he is such a nightmare to play against. I believe as long as Kante and Pogba can cut down Luka Modric’s damage on the field to the minimum, it’ll be very difficult for Croatia to be the Champion!

I have been a keen supporter of Croatia in their past few matches, including a tough encounter with England. However, I can't help but root for France instead in the coming final. One of the main reason is because of my concern for their level of fatigue. Having been through 3 consecutive knockout matches with extra time, including 2 penalty shoot outs, Croatia players’ energy level must have been stretched to the limit. It would be hard for them to fully recover for their final encounter. On the other hand, France has enjoyed an extra day of rest thanks to a more favourable schedule arrangement, which puts Croatia in further disadvantageous position. Croatia is without doubt blessed with midfield talents such as Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Marcelo Brozovic, but they will most definitely be coming up against their toughest challenge in this tournament when playing against France, who has N'Golo Kante sitting in the middle of the park to provide top quality protection to their defence. Thus, without previous experience of playing in a World Cup final, Croatia could really struggle against the mighty France side.

Time has gone by so quickly, “Forlan WC Preview” have finally came to an end, it is a pleasure to share my opinions with the Hong Kong football fans. I hope all the football fans in Hong Kong can support the Hong Kong Premier League and the Hong Kong representative team in the future, hopefully we will meet again!

Both sides have met 5 times previously, with France have an unbeaten record of winning 3 times and drawing twice.

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