France vs Croatia World Cup Final 2018; Nine reasons why France won

France vs Croatia World Cup Final 2018; Nine reasons why France won Internationals Preview/Analysis World Cup

  • France won World Cup for the second time after beating Croatia 4-2.
  • Didier Deschamp became third person after Mário Zagallo (Brazil) and Franz Beckenbauer (Germany) to win World Cup as both player and coach.
  • Griezmann won Budweiser Man of the Match for final and Luca Modric won Golden Ball for tournament.

France has won the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia after defeating Croatia 4-2 in a thoroughly entertaining Final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. France scored two goals and conceded one in either side of the break.

The Croatian team played proactive football, but France was more efficient, played adaptive and situational game. Les Bleus’ continued to follow their principle: no matter who they faced, they found the solution to beat their adversaries, one by one. Without being brilliant today, they scored four goals, which gives an idea about match reading, meticulous planning and intention of Didier Deschamps. Today, with his smart tactical set-up, he prevailed over Dalic.

1. Change in Strategy for Croatia

Both France and Croatia did not have any change in their playing eleven from Semi Final. Where France was in their usual self, Croatia made some strategic changes. Croatia was one game away from winning World Cup, and this was in their mind. They were not tired and decided to put a bit extra energy on the pitch. They played beautiful attacking game for first 30-35 minutes into the match. Score-line could have been dramatically different during this time.

Croatia played attacking game today, shifting from their regular ‘defensive and counter-attack’ based approach. Compared to semi-final match against England, Croatia in some of the situation had numerical superiority over France, while attacking. This saw Kylian Mbappe coming down to shoulder the defensive duty in early quarter of the game. Being in higher orbit and deviation from their usual focused approach cost them the match.

2. France had winner’s luck in the final

Yesterday, when I wrote that mid-field would decide the outcome of a World Cup Final, and considering the kind of midfield both the teams have, the battle of midfield was expected to be a mouthwatering prospect. I mentioned that any prediction could make somebody look fool and still; I predicted “battle of midfield to decide the fate of the game”
And at break, statistics were,

and at the end of the game,

The scoreline seems to be not correlated with other statistics and  is not telling story of Croatian dominance in Final.

3. Poor Defending

If score-line says one team conceded four goals, that majorly attributed to leaky defence. Croatia defence failed to mark France forwards and block France’s attempts from outside of Croatian box. Instead, they blocked Danijel Subasic’s vision at crucial moments. He seemed to be caught wrong-footed and reacted late during both third and fourth goal.
Both Hugo Lloris and Danijel Subasic were in race of ‘Golden glove’, along with Thibaut Courtois (Belgium) and Jordan Pickford (England). Thibaut Courtois won the golden gloves yesterday. Though Lloris, France captain, won World Cup, both the goal-keepers had been disappointing final.

France vs Croatia World Cup Final 2018; Nine reasons why France won Internationals Preview/Analysis World Cup
Mandzukic conceding an own goal against France.

4. Missed few chances

Croatia got few chances in either sides of the break, but both Perisic and Mandzukic failed to convert those chances into a goal. If one considers accuracy, France had been more clinical in finishing and kept their attempts within the target. 75% of France attempts (6 out of 8) were on-target, as compared to 20% of Croatian attempts (3 out of 15), and this made all the difference in the end.

5. Talent of France Team 

One cannot enough emphasise the talent that France team has. Goal Keeper Hugo Lloris had a great tournament till Semifinal and had highest clean-sheets among four contenders for ‘Golden Glove’. All of the France players feature in the starting eleven of biggest of European clubs, for example, defenders are from Barcelona and Madrid teams. Pogba and Griezmann require separate mentioning. And revelation of  2018 World Cup – Kylian Mbappe. He has skills, strength, speed and maturity to make the difference. Though he scored fourth goal when match was almost decided, but it was his moves that unsettled Croatian defenders.

6. Absence of their legendary fight-back

Croatia was trailing in all knock-out stage matches, fought back to equalise and then register win against Denmark, Russia and England. But today, they perhaps lost hope after conceding two goals in second half. They reduced margin through Mandzukic goal at 69′, but could not overcome two goal margin. They might be tired because of extended matches they played, or goals, they unfortunately conceded in the first half, but then Pogba and Mbappe goals within 6 minutes of time, actually sealed the fate of the game.

7. Paul Pogba 

After initial 20-25 minutes, he regained composure and took control of France midfield. During the match, he always puzzled Croatian by changing gear as well as direction. He  made some beautiful through for Mbappe and Griezmann and at the same time, he did some required dirty jobs to keep opposition at bay, at the late stages of a match with elan. He was every where, from France box to Croatian box, assisting defence, sending long ball for forward-line or just holding the ball at late stages of a match. Most importantly in the final, when everybody was expecting a Croatian comeback to level the match at 2-2, he himself scored to take the match further away from Croatia.

8. Antoine Griezmann

Perhaps France did not score many goal in this World Cup, where Griezman did not contribute. He had been very effective in set-piece situation, which yielded most of the goals. Today, he earned the free-kick, which lead to first goal and then, unsettled Subasic to provide France the lead. He again  passed to ball Pogba for the third goal.

9. Didier Deschamps

In spite of Croatian dominance in the final, France always looked composed and confident, as they knew that they are not deviating from the script given by their coach and everybody played their role brilliantly. Didier became third person to win World Cup, both as a player and a coach.  He too had faced some initial criticism on team selection but later, his team went strength to strength. He had 14 players who were playing in World Cup for the first time. Didier first made a team, out of raw talents and marshalled his young team to win the World Cup. He had specific responsibilities for each of the individuals. He had his centre forward, appeared in seven games and without scoring a single goal. Didier communicated expectations well to his players.