Behind the numbers for France and Croatia

Carla Harmon
July 15, 2018

The contest between the two sides is not short of history, as France defeated Croatia 2-0 in the 1998 semi-final on route to lifting the World Cup.

This is France's third final in six editions after winning it in 1998 and finishing runners-up in 2006.

France have an abundance of technically gifted players, but Kylian Mbappe remains one of their greatest weapons.

"We took the hard path, probably we will be the only team at a World Cup to have played eight games to get to a final if you tally up all the minutes", admitted Dalic. "If they will be unable to give their all during the match I expect them to tell us", he said.

Croatia had the best of the opening exchanges as Perisic found space down the left but his low cross was cleared by Umtiti before any danger could surface.

Croatia will become the sixth team to enter a final under these conditions, with two - England and France - having beaten a previous champion the first time they reached a final.

Croatia showed no early nerves and confidently dominated the action in the French half, without however threatening as Raphael Varane headed a cross out of danger ahead of Mandzukic.

After the interval, France increased their lead through Paul Pogba, whose performances in the tournament deserved a goal in its finale.

After three successive extra-time knockout games the chances of Croatia coming back again looked impossible but they were thrown a lifeline by Lloris, who tried to dribble round Mandzukic only for the striker to tap the ball into the unguarded net.

Griezmann scored from the penalty spot in the 38th minute after a video review.

Before half time Perisic put in a risky cross into the box but Ante Rebic couldn't quite get his shot right as they pushed for an equalizer and went close from two more set pieces before the break. With his second attempt, the midfielder curled his shot beyond Subasic.

His France side, spearheaded by 19-year-old forward Kylian Mbappe and the more seasoned Antoine Griezmann, are the favourites.

"It does not matter if we do not see the screen, we have our phones, we have water and we are together - that's what's important, everyone here has so much desire for victory".

"I think that our team is quite calm. The crowd absolutely erupted as soon as the final whistle sounded, all 80,000 of those packed in the fan zone".

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