This article titled “World Cup 2018 final: France 4-2 Croatia – as it happened” was written by Barry Glendenning (match commentary), Will Unwin (build-up) and Niall McVeigh, for theguardian.com on Monday 16th July 2018 01.13 Asia/Kolkata
Barney Ronay on the final, Deschamps is soaked in champagne, and more!
Report, reaction and more
Time to wrap up here, but there will be more reaction and analysis to come throughout the evening – and join us again tomorrow for our live blog, as we wave the World Cup goodbye. It’s going to be a tough week, isn’t it?
For now, thanks for joining Will, Barry and I, and congratulations to France, the worthy winners of a fantastic tournament. See you all in Qatar. Au revoir!
“The final was a tale of two games,” writes Kári Tulinius. “One had two good teams duking it out, with three beautiful goals. The other was the weirdest game of football I have ever seen, featuring pitch invaders, VAR, Mandzukic scoring at both ends, and world leaders in a downpour of rain and glitter. Mind you, France won both 2-1.”
David Wall nominates Nacer Chadli and Kevin De Bruyne for goal of the tournament: “both goals were the result of controlled, devastatingly incisive, length of the pitch attacks, and were decisive in their respective games.”
A quick reminder that if you’ve enjoyed our coverage of this epic World Cup, from our Experts’ Network through to live blogs, match reports and analysis, you can contribute here:
In news that will surprise nobody, Kylian Mbappé has been voted young player of the tournament. The 19-year-old forward became the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Pelé, and the Brazilian legend has had his say. I can’t help but feel that, at 77, he may have lost half a yard of pace by now.
Just as Diana Ross opened USA 94, Olivier Giroud has closed Russia 18:
And there’s plenty of time to submit your own player ratings:
Player ratings! Our football editor has made Antoine Griezmann his man of the match…
…but Griezmann is being edged out by Kylian Mbappé in your ratings so far:
A decent shout. The fears that Russia would embarrass themselves on the pitch in this tournament proved entirely unfounded.
More reaction from the Luzhniki Stadium now, from Martha Kelner and Shaun Walker:
What of today’s losing finalists? Croatia’s manager, Zlatko Dalic, was sanguine in defeat but felt aggrieved by France’s VAR-awarded penalty.
“I never comment on refereeing … but let me say one sentence. In a World Cup final you do not give such a penalty. That in no way diminishes France’s win but maybe we were a bit unlucky. The first six games we may have been favoured by luck, today not.
“I respect the ref. He did what he saw, fair and square. I never meant to be negative. With VAR when it is in your favour it is [good], when it isn’t, it’s bad. That’s all I have to say about that. VAR is a good thing for football.”
Antoine Griezmann has spoken of his pride of winning the World Cup as part of a multicultural French team:
“That’s the France we love. They are different origins but we are all united. It’s the same in our team, there are many players who come from different horizons but we do have the same state of mind.
We all play for the same jersey, for the cockerel, for our country, as soon as you wear the jersey you do everything for each other and it’s beautiful.”
Another debate for you: what was the goal of the tournament? Here are a few of the obvious contenders, but feel free to suggest your own.
More scènes absolues from France, where Paris is celebrating wildly:
And here’s Emmanuel Macron dabbing with Pogba in the France dressing room. It’s embarrassing, but surely better than Theresa May flossing:
I’m loath to talk about England at a time like this, but Gareth Southgate has made some interesting comments on his return from Russia, calling for Premier League clubs to give more game time to English youngsters:
“I was given an opportunity here to blood younger players in this tournament and they have proved that they could perform. Club managers need that time [but] you have got to be brave enough to take those decisions.
“Some players we took – I’m thinking particularly of Pickford, Maguire, Trippier – they come back better players, more rounded individuals. I think we’ve got the basis of a really good team, and we’ve got some young players coming through. It’s got to become more difficult to get into the senior squad.”
Southgate also hinted that some of his squad may look to retire from the international game. No more than idle speculation on my part, but there are only three players in his squad over 30 – Gary Cahill, Ashley Young and Jamie Vardy.
Way, way back in the mists of early June, when your sticker album was half-full and you still fancied Egypt as dark horses, we gave you the chance to pick your all-time France XI. And here it is:
Antoine Griezmann made the cut, but would any of his 2018 team-mates be in the team now?
Sticking with goalkeepers, and Thibaut Courtois has been named the best goalkeeper of the tournament. He can add another zero to that new Chelsea contract he’s after.
“The Lloris brain-freeze is just the latest in a series of memorable goalie clangers at this tournament,” says Peter Oh. “De Gea’s butter fingers, Kawashima’s finger wag, Caballero’s chip fail, Neuer’s disappearing act, Muslera’s Karius imitation.”
It’s not been a great month for the goalkeepers’ union, it’s true.
Here’s some words from Didier Deschamps, who has become only the second man to lift the World Cup as a captain and manager, after Franz Beckenbauer.
“How marvellous! It’s a young team, who are on the top of the world. Some are champions at the age of 19. We did not play a huge game but we showed mental quality. And we scored four goals anyway. They deserved to win.”
“The group worked so hard and we had some tough moments along the way. It hurt so much to lose the Euros two years ago, but it made us learn too. The win is not about me, it’s the players who won the game.
“For 55 days, we have done a lot of work. It is the supreme coronation. We are proud to be French, to be Blues. The victory in the match belongs to them. Vive le Republic.
“How did France win, when Croatia had the world’s best defender in their team?” honks Woollie Madden. “It almost seems like France’s forward line was motivated by Dejan Lovren’s lack of respect.”
How did the final compare to previous editions? It’s being touted as the best ever, which is a big call given it only finished an hour ago. It’s surely one of the most entertaining, though – with six goals, it had as many as the last four finals put together.
Look who’s decided to stick his oar in:
Merci Barry. Well, that wasn’t bad, was it? We’ll have more reaction and analysis to France’s 4-2 win – plus there’s plenty of time to reflect on what’s been a remarkable tournament.
Don’t touch that dial. I’m off to record the final podcast of the World Cup, which you’ll be able to download later. Niall McVeigh will be taking over here to bring you reaction and post-match comment.
Hugo Lloris lifts the World Cup trophy!!!
Trophy in hand, Fifa president Gianni Infantino makes his way into the scrum of celebrating France players and hands it over to their skipper Hugo Lloris. As the rain continues to pour down, the goalkeeper raises it skywards. France are the world champions and their coronation is marked by fireworks and an explosion of golden ticker-tape.
France go up to collect their World Cup winners’ medals. In a downpour of biblical proportions, the players of France file past their presentation party, receiving the congratulations of their own president and Croatia’s. Standing there in her Croatia shirt and white trousers, Kolinda is soaked to the skin and doesn’t seem a bit perturbed.
Croatia collect their runners-up medals. The heavens open as Croatia’s players enjoy a guard of honour from their French conquerers and go up to receive their losers’ medals. It is hammering down with rain and there aren’t too many umbrellas on that podium.
Nestor Pitana collects his commemorative medal. The referee and his team of officials are booed by Croatia’s fans as they receive their medals from a presentation party that includes Fifa president Gianni Infantino, Russian president Vladimir Putin, Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović and France president Emmanuel Macron.
Harry Kane wins the Golden Boot for top scorer, while Thibaut Courtois wins the Golden Glove for best goalkeeper. Neither are present to pick up their awards.
Luka Modric of Croatia wins the Player of the Tournament award.
Kylian Mbappe wins the Young Player of the Tournament award. That’s no big surprise. I know what I was doing when I was 19 and it wasn’t scoring goals in World Cup finals.
Presentation ahoy!!! After a long delay, the World Cup trophy is once again brought out on to the pitch, where a stage has been erected, by the former Germany international Philipp Lahm.
Harry Kane wins the Golden Boot: What with Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann having to make do with just one goal each in this final, England striker Harry Kane has won the Golden Boot for being the competition’s top scorer, with six, despite drawing a blank in England’s past three games.
More on that second half pitch invasion …
Assorted memebrs of Pussy Riot invaded the pitch early in the second half, saying in a statement that it was “cool here” on the pitch at the Luzhniki Stadium. Having seen them being carried off the pitch by security goons, I can’t help but wonder how “cool” it is in their current lodgings, wherever they might be. Here’s Shaun Walker with the latest …
Rate! Rate! Rate! Rate! Rate!
France have won the World Cup final, seeing off a valiant effort by Croatia in the process. Here’s your opportunity to see how history will remember the winners and losers.
Match report: France 4-2 Croatia
Here’s our snap on-the-whistle report from the Luzhniki Stadium, which will be replaced by that of our Chief Football Correspondent Daniel Taylor just as soon as he draws breath.
Goals! Goals! Goals! It was high-scoring for a World Cup final, with six goals in total. One was an own goal, one came from a highly ducious penalty and a third came on the back of a hideous goalkeeping rick. The other three, scored by Paul Pogba, Kylian Mbappe and Ivan Perisic were quite outstanding and fit to grace any World Cup final.
World Cup final result: France 4-2 Croatia
France are the world champions: Didier Deschamps celebrates with his overjoyed players as their fans cut loose in the stands and in the streets and squares of France.
For Croatia, it’s a boulevard of broken dreams, but they can go home with their heads held high. They dominated this match for long periods, putting France under immense pressure. France enjoyed a bit of luck but were ultimately worthy winners. As Dider Deschamps gets the bumps from his players, Antoine Griezmann stands to one side weeping salty tears of joy.
FRANCE WIN WORLD CUP 2018!!!
Peep! Peep! Peeeeeeeeep! It’s all over – France have beaten Croatia 4-2 to win their second World Cup, two decades after their only previous success in the competition.
90+3 min: Sime Vrsalko is booked for a desperate foul on Antoine Griezmann. From the free-kick, the ball’s played in to the penalty area, where Paul Pogba takes his eye off it and mis-kicks completely when scoring looked easier.
90+2 min: Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba attack down the right flank on the break. Paul Pogba tries to be too elaborate and squanders possession.
90+1 min: The game enters its knockings as the fourth official holds up the board. There’ll be five minutes of added time for Croatia to pull off an escape that would be little short of miraculous.
90 min: Brozovic concedes a free-kick and kicks the ball away in frustration. He avoids a yellow card, not that he’ll care particularly.
88 min: Kramaric and Vida combine down the left flank in a move that ends with Ivan Rakitic on the ball, shooting from distance only to send his effort high and wide.
87 min: France win a free-kick and taske it v-e-r-y, v-e-r-y, s-l-o-w-l-y, as you’d expect. Time is running out for Croatia, whose commendable resilience looks set to go unrewarded.
85 min: Pjaca skips and shimmies down the right flank, foxing Lucas Hernandez with a couple of stepovers. He tries to pick out Sime Vrsalko, but the Croatia right-back isn’t on the same wavelength as his team-mate and a promising move breaks down.
83 min: Free-kick for Croatia, wide on the left. Ivan Rakitic swings the ball into the penalty area, where Hugo Lloris plucks it from the sky.
82 min: Croatia substitution: Ivan Strinic off, Marko Pjaca. France substitution: Olivier Giroud off, Nabil Fekir on.
80 min: What with all the excitement since the interval, I haven’t got around to mentioning the pitch invasion that took place at the beginning of the second half. Luckily, our man Shaun Walker in Moscow has all the skinny.
“The Russian protest performance group Pussy Riot have claimed responsibility for a pitch invasion early in the second half at the game. ‘Right now, there are four members of Pussy Riot on the pitch,’ the group wrote on its Facebook page. It said the pitch invasion had been a protest with demands including:
1. Free political prisoners
2. Do not put people in jail for social media “likes”
3. Stop illegal detentions at political rallies
4. Allow political competition in Russia
5. Do not fabricate criminal cases and detain people for no reason
Pussy Riot gained notoriety for a protest inside Moscow’s biggest cathedral in 2012, for which three participants were arrested and jailed for varying lengths of time. Since then, the three women who were put on trial have separated, with two of them – Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alekhina – still appearing separately using the Pussy Riot name. It was unclear whether either of them were involved on Sunday.
On Twitter, the group’s account said it would post photographs and video very soon. “Hi everyone from the pitch at Luzhniki, it’s cool here,” the tweet read.
78 min: Close for Croatia, as a wonderful move ends with a low, diagonal Ivan Rakitic shot being deflected narrowly wide of the far upright by Steven Nzonzi. Referee Nestor Pitana awards a goal-kick, having failed to spot the nick off the French substitute.
75 min: Croatia substitution: Andre Kramaric on for Ante Rebic. France substitution: Corentin Tolisso on for Blaise Matuidi.
69 min: Apparently oblivious to the fact that Mario Mandzukic is bearing down on him, Hugo Lloris attempts to field a backpass from Olivier Giroud. He takes one touch, then another before opting to pass the ball back to Giroud, or perhaps Paul Pogba.
As he does so, Super Mario intercepts and slots the ball into the empty net from about four yards out. The Croatia striker is quick to retrieve the ball from the net and place it back on the spot for kick-off as the camera focusses on the ashen-faced France goalkeeper. Somewhere on Merseyside, Loris Karius is offering up a silent prayer of thanks.
GOAL! France 4-2 Croatia (Mandzukic 69)
Croatia pull one back after Mario Mandzukic capitalises on some shocking goalkeeping from Hugo Lloris to give his team a sporting chance.
67 min: For all Croatia’s pluck, this World Cup final is turning into a procession for France, whose coronation as World Champions now looks a formality. Kylian Mbappe takes possession of the ball 25 yards from goal, gives a little shimmy and sends a low drive fizzing past both Domagoj Vida and then Danijel Subasic into the bottom left-hand corner.
GOAL! France 4-1 Croatia (Mbappe 65)
France go 4-1 up, with Kylian Mbappe becoming the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since a young Brazilian lad by the name of Pele a very long time ago.
63 min: France went close to putting the game completely beyond Croatia not long after scoring their third. Olivier Giroud tried a rather ambitious overhead kick that was heading towards Antoine Griezmann, completely unmarked at the far post. It took a crucial interception by Marcelo Brozovic to prevent France from going 4-1 up.
61 min: That was a great goal by Pogba, albeit a tiny bit fortuitous. He charged upfield and laid the ball off to Mbappe. He played the return pass to Pogba a couple of yards outside the penalty area and his shot towards the bottom right -hand corner was blocked. He gets a second bite of the cherry and with Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic wrongfooted, steers the ball into the bottom left-hand corner with his weaker left foot. Who is this fine player and is he in any way related to the facsimile of himself we saw playing for Manchester United more often than not last season?
GOAL! France 3-1 Croatia (Pogba 59)
Paul Pogba increases France’s lead, in a move he started and finished. His first shot from the edge of the area is blocked, but the ball breaks kindly for him and he scores at the second attempt with his left foot.
58 min: Perisic takes on and beats Benjamin Pavard down the left flank, but overcooks his cross. It’s too high for Mario Mandzukic, who is loitering with intent in his usual spot at the far post.
55 min: France substitution: N’Golo Kante off, Steven Nzonzi on. The diminutive Chelsea midfielder is on a yellow card and has not had one of his better games, having been targeted by Croatia’s players and put under huge pressure any time the ball comes his way. He makes way for Arsenal target Steven Nzonzi.
54 min: Mandzukic clatters Lloris as the pair contest a high ball and there’s a break in play as the France goalkeeper receives treatment.
52 min: Paul Pogba releases Kylian Mbappe with a ball down the inside left. He gets around Vida, outmuscling the left-back and unleashes a shot. LSubasic is out quick to smother his shot from a narrow angle. Should he have squared the ball for Olivier Giroud instead? The French striker will almost certainly think so.
50 min: Croatia begin the second half as they began the first, in a state of total dominance. They win another corner, but nothing comes of it. France do appear to be rocking against a team that never knows when it’s beaten.
49 min: Hugo Lloris is forced out of his area to clear, sweeper-keeper style, after Raphael Varane dashes back to take the ball off Ivan Perisic’s toe.
48 min: Ante Rebic is put through on goal by a wonderful pass from Ivan Rakitic. His surface-to-air diagonal effort from about 15 yards is tipped over the bar by Hugo Lloris. Nothing comes from the ensuing corner.
Second half: France 2-1 Croatia
46 min: The second half begins, with Croatia a goal behind in the World Cup final. My inbox has been inundated with correspondence from readers, many of whom don’t appear to know the rules of VAR or the laws of football. It all makes for good debate, albeit the kind this technology was supposed to end.
That France penalty: The consensus in the BBC studio seems to be that Croatia were very hard done by and having seen another couple of replays, I’m very much inclined to agree. Perisic had an impaired view and it seemed very, very harsh of referee Nestor Pitana to decide, on the back of repeated viewings, that the handball was deliberate. Oh VAR, you were doing so well up to this point in the World Cup and now you’ve let us down in the final.
Half-time: France 2-1 Croatia
France lead: The interval is upon us and France lead courtesy of an Mario Mandzukic own goal that came from a free-kick that probably shouldn’t have been awarded and a penalty that almost certainly should not have been awarded. Ivan Perisic, who has been outstanding for Croatia, has scored the goal of the game to keep his team in contention. So much for VAR putting an end to game-changing controversy.
45+3 min: Vrsalko sends in a glorious cross from the right touchline, that hangs in the corridor of uncertainty in front of the France goal. For reasons best known to himself, Perisic doesn’t gamble and go for it and another great chance goes a begging.
45+2 min: There are grey skies over the Luzhniki Stadium and a couple of rumbles of thunder rend the air.
45+1 min: Croatia win another two corners in quick succession and there’s a break in play as Samuel Umtiti receives treatment for an injury. Rakitic sends the ball into the mixer, where Vida makes the faintest contact with his head. The ball skims wide and the Croatia full-back rues a missed chance. He should have scored!!!
43 min: Lucas Hernandez is booked for a late challenge on Ante Rebic and not long afterwards, Ivan Perisic has a shot blocked by Paul Pogba, who puts the ball out for a corner.
40 min: So, VAR has made the first big World Cup final call in history and I’m not 100% convinced it was correct. The ball was crossed from the right and Matuidi, who was being marked by Perisic, got his head to it. Before he did so, Perisic had dropped his arm and made contact with the ball. The referee didn’t see him do so, but had his attention drawn to it by France’s players and his VAR officials. Was the handball deliberate? Quite possibly. Was it a thse kind of “clear and obvious error” by the referee that VAR was brought in to over-rule? Not for me, Clive.
40 min: Mario Mandzukic is too slow to react after Ante Rebic fails to connect with a wonderful Ivan Perisic cross from the left into the penalty area.
GOAL! France 2-1 Croatia (Griezmann 38pen)
Antoine Griezmann nonchalantly rolls the ball past Danijel Subasic into the bottom left-hand corner and France re-take the lead. It’s the Woirld Cup final and it’s 2-1 to the French.
37 min: Ivan Perisic is penalised for handball and if that was a “clear and obvious error” by the referee, it certainly didn’t look like one to me. Antoine Griezmann waits to take the penalty as Subasic delays proceedings by refusing to get on his goal-line.
PENALTY TO FRANCE!!!
36 min: The ref studies his monitor at great length – then awards the penalty!
33 min: France win a corner, which Griezmann curls into the penalty area. Blaise Matuidi tries to get on the end of it, but doesn’t make decent contact with his head. France’s players claim Ivan Perisic, who was marking Matuidi, handled the ball and it’s going to VAR!!! Referee Nestor Pitana is going pitch-side for a look at his monitor.
30 min: Ivan Perisic has been outsatanding for Croatia in this match and gets the equaliser his team deserves. He drew the foul about 40 yards from the French goal and the ensuing free-kick was very well worked. Modric floated the ball to the far post, where Sime Vrsalko headed it across the penalty area. It dropped for Perisic right on the edge of the box and he bided his time, taking a touch and making space for a shot before unleashing an unstoppable, low, diagonal drive into the bottom right-hand corner with his left foot.
GOAL! France 1-1 Croatia (Perisic 29)
It’s level in Moscow! Ivan Perisic blasts the ball past Hugo Lloris with an unbelievable left-footed strike.
28 min: N’Golo Kante gets the first yellow card of this final, for a sly swipe on Perisic, who was advancing towards the France penalty area.
26 min: Croatia wingers Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic switched sides some time ago, to no obvious or positive effect for Croatia.
25 min: With just over a quarter of the game gone, Croatia’s players and supporters must be cursing their luck. They have been completely dominant but somehow find themselves a goal down.
23 min: Domagoj Vida puts a stop to the first Killian Mbappe gallop of note as Blaise Matuidi tries to put the lightning fast teenager through on goal as France counter-attack. That’s a brilliant tackle from the left-back.
Incredible scenes: Having been on the back foot for the first quarter of the game, France go ahead courtesy of an own goal from Mario Mandzukic that was totally against the run pf play. From the aforementioned free-kick, Antoine Griezmann whipped the ball into the penalty area, where Croatia were defending far too deeply. Back defending, Mario Mandzukic rose highest to get the touch that sent the ball past Danijel Subasic and inside the far upright. The camera cuts to Mandzukic, who looks completely stunned by what’s just happened.
GOAL! France 1-0 Croatia (Mandzukic 18og)
France take the lead courtesy of “their” first shot on goal.
17 min: Antoine Griezmann gets what might well have been his first touch of the game and wins a free-kick on the back of a fairly innocuous challenge by Marcelo Brozovic. It’s about 30 yards from goal, well right of centre.
16 min: Ivan Perisic goes down holding his face following an off-the-ball incident involving him and Lucas Hernandez. Replays show he shipped a completely accidental blow to the face as he tried to spin in behind the defender to make a run on goal. He’s fine to continue and play resumes.
15 min: Ivan Perisic is put into space down the left flank and gallops towards the byline. He’s unable to get a cross into the penalty area towards Modric, as Umtiti gets back to intercept.
13 min: France get the ball out of their own half, only to see it sent back with interest courtesy of a powerful Dejan Lovren header. The French don’t look at the races here at all – Croatia are bossing them completely, but have yet to create a chance of note.
11 min: Ivan Perisic chases a beautifully weighted pass over the top from Ivan Rakitic, but the ball’s shepherded out of play by Umtiti before the Croatian forward can bring it down.
10 min: It’s all Croatia, with France struggling to get out of their own half. “Croatia just look sharper all around the pitch,” says BBC co-commentator Martin Keown. “They all know their roles and responsibilities.”
8 min: A crucial Mbappe block on Ivan Strinic results in a corner for Croatia when France looked under intense pressure. The Croatian midfielder nutmegged Pavard to play in Strinic, who was bearing down on the near post from a tight angle. Mbappe did well to get back to block his cross and nothing comes of the corner.
7 min: Thinking about it, N’Golo Kante is about 18 inches tall – how can his boot be high?
6 min: France enjoy some time on the ball in their own half, yet to get a foothold in this game in the face of tireless Croatia pressing. They concede a throw-in halfway inside the Croatia half and Croatia win a free-kick for a high N’Golo Kante boot on Luka Modric.
5 min: Croatia have started much the brighter of the two sides and right-back Sime Vrsalko, who’s playing very high up the pitch, swings in a cross from the touchline. Nothing comes of it.
3 min: Benjamin Pavard is caught napping on the ball, allowing Ivan Perisic to get forward. He takes on Raphael Varane and tries to beat him with a few step-overs, but the French defender isn’t having any of it.
2 min: Luka Modric concedes the first free-kick of the game with a foul on Samuel Umtiti as he puts the French central defender under pressure early doors. Croatia, to nobody’s great surprise, will be adopting their usual pressing game.
2 min: The ball’s pinged around the middle third of the field by players from both sides, with Ivan Rakitic and Kylian Mbappe among those to get early touches.
The World Cup final is GO!!!
1 min: Croatia kick off, their players wearing red and white check shirts, white shorts and white socks. The players of France wear navy blue shirts, shorts and socks.
It’s nearly time: After what must have seemed liked an interminable day’s wait, the players of both teams get the last of the pre-match formalities under way. THere are handshakes all around as Hugo Lloris and Luka Modric exchange pennants and get the coin-toss out of the way. Fasten your seat-belts …
Out they go. There’s no chat whatsoever between the players, whose faces are a study in concentration as they are given the order to march out into the colosseum’s arena. They line up either side of referee Pitana and his team of assistants and prepare for the national anthems.
Not long now: The teams line up in the tunnel, as out on the pitch, former German international Philipp Lahm returns the World Cup trophy for a new team to claim. He places it on a ceremonial plinth for the teams to gaze at as they march out on the pitch. It’s up for grabs now!!!
Today’s referee: Argentinian referee Nestor Pitana has been given the honour of officiating this afternoon. The 43-year-old has already refereed four matches at Russia 2018: Russia v Saudi Arabia and Mexico v Sweden in the group stages, followed by the the Round of 16 match between Croatia and Denmark and the quarter-final between Uruguay and France. A PE teacher by trade, expect him to force any players who “forget” their kit today to play in their vest and pants.
“Roy, did you enjoy that?” asks ITV presenter Mark Pougatch of a certain volatile former Irish international skipper once the closing ceremony ends and they begin clearing the pitch for the main business of the day. “Not really, says Mr Keane, for it is he. It’s a load of nonsense and you’re thinking of the players in the dressing room. It is what it is.”
The closing ceremony is under way: The players have made way for the performers participating in a closing ceremony which is being headlined by Will Smith, Nicky Jam and Kosovian artist Era Istrefi singing the World Cup anthem Live It Up, it says here. It’s quite the garish spectacle, as you might expect. And one which is mercifully being ignored by the BBC.
Both sets of players are out warming up: They all look quite relaxed, but what must they be thinking? Presumably the key is to treat this as just another game, but it’s inconceivable that the possible ramifications of victory or defeat will not be weighing heavily on the minds of all 22 starters.
Here in Blighty: On the BBC’s coverage, Gary Lineker and his team of pundits are picking over the bones of England’s World Cup and the consensus seems to be that the English public has fallen back in love with a football team that has done them proud, but there is still plenty of room for improvement. That sounds about fair.
France v Croatia line-ups …
Those teams again, with less than an hour to go until kick-off. There are no major surprises as both managers go with their tried and trusted first choice elevens.
Good afternoon everybody. It’s the 12th World Cup final of this middle-aged man’s lifetime, the 10th I’m vaguely aware of and I could scarcely be more excited. It’s not the one England fans wanted to see, but it’s the one we’ve got and here’s hoping it draws one of the most exciting, intriguing and fascinating World Cups I’ve ever seen to suitably fitting close.
Good news! Barry is here and raring to go, which means you are saved from me and also that we are closing on kick-off!
Enjoy the game!
Looks like Davor Suker has wandered over to Giggs and Bilic to laugh at them for wearing the same outfit.
“Lads, it’s really warm and you’re both dressed as cat burglars.”
David Hytner thinks this could be Pogba’s moment. . .
Well, this is awkward, both Slaven Bilic and Ryan Giggs have both come dressed as the Milk Tray man.
The BBC pundits have gone for their traditional World Cup final suits, which always seems a touch unnecessary to me.
Marcel Desailly is the perfect man to discuss Didier Deschamps. . .
It’s a big day for Olivier Giroud who has been utilised as a non-scoring striker by Deschamps throughout the tournament but his hold up play and physicality has been essential in getting the best out of those around him, as Griezmann and Mbappe will testify. The scene seems set for him to score today, doesn’t it?
Former Croatia international Aljosa Asanovic has kindly penned this for us. . .
It would be a proud record to have.
The players are in the house!
Plenty has been happening in the World Cup, so you may have missed the weird and the wonderful, but do not fear. . .
Let’s not forget that before all the actual football, we will be treated to a closing ceremony, a display that no one wants to see. I assume this will be the moment that Putin final confirms his plan for world domination, as the military perform the Russian version of the haka, as Will Smith screams the national anthem at the confused attendees.
No surprises in those two lineups. Both teams at full strength, which is what we all want for a final. No one suspended, ruling out those needlessly cruel blows that many have suffered in the past.
Where will the game be won and lost? Jonathan Wilson thinks he has the answer. . .
For those of you who like your team in text form, here they are:
France: Lloris, Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez, Pogba, Kanté, Mbappé, Griezmann, Matuidi, Giroud.
Croatia: Subasic, Vrsaljko, Strinic, Lovren, Vida, Rakitic, Modric, Brozovic, Perisic, Mandzukic, Rebic.
Dawah wonders what has happened to Croatia’s forgotten man: “Nikola Kalinic from Croatia was sent home from the WorldCup for refusing to come on as a substitute in their opening game against Nigeria. Wonder what he’s doing today?”
I do hope he would still get a winner’s medal.
Team news: France v Croatia
Here are the starting lineups for the World Cup final!
Raphael Varane has been superb during this tournament, which means it is a cracking time to remind yourself of this:
The World Cup trophy has its own security and, to be honest, I am not going to mess with them. No need for Pickles in Moscow, I suspect.
Kari has emailed in about fulfilling dreams and going to space: “Kids all over the world dream of one day scoring in a World Cup final, and now a couple of dozen former kid dreamers have a chance to do so. From 1930 only 57 players have scored in a men’s world cup final, by comparison 536 people have gone into space. In the last quarter century, there have been only nine goals scored in World Cup finals, and a third of them by Zinedine Zidane. Whoever scores today will join a very exclusive club.”
What you really want is some top quality writing from people who certainly are not me.
What we have for your peepers is. . .
Ed Aarons on Thuram being a hero
Jorge Valdano discusses the final
Daniel Taylor previews the match
Barney Ronay on Modric
Thomas asks: “Any last minute tactical predictions? Will any manager spring some surprises on us?”
I predict zero surprises, it is not really the time for it.
As a scarf, it doesn’t really do it for me. . .
N’Golo Kante, the 12th and 13th man for France, has once again been superb throughout the tournament. His determination to cover ground and break up play has been a key influence on France and Paul Pogba, who does not get such luxuries when next to Marouane Fellaini in the Manchester United engine room. Kante will have his eyes on Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic, who have been devastating for Croatia but he will not be worried about that.
Who are you supporting, Vlad?
This is no time for looking back, as we are just two hours away for the biggest game in the last four years. I’ve taken a heavy intake of breath and I am almost fully prepared for what is about to come.
Lovren and Vida have had a great tournament, the former proclaiming that he is now one of the world’s finest exponents of the art of defending but they are really going to need to be at their best if they are to keep the triple threat of Giroud, Griezmann and Mbappe quiet. I can’t see it myself but they keep proving everyone wrong.
After a month of football, we are at the final. Thirty-two teams have become just two. Many expected France to be contenders but Croatia have done the surprising thing of being a dark horse who actually do the unexpected and reach the final.
It seems to have been built as a battle of Kylian Mbappé versus Luka Modric as they are the two standout performers left in the tournament, in my humble opinion. The pace, power, skill and finishing of a teenager against the cunning and passing of a 32-year-old facing perjury charges, it is what this game was meant to be.
Across the pitch Croatia have field a number of heroes who have battled their way to the final thanks to two penalty shootout victories and seeing off England in the semis and they will not be afraid to fight for another 90 – potentially 120 – minutes in order to secure the biggest prize of their careers and Croatia’s footballing history.
France have been here before, albeit 20 years ago, but it will count for something that their head coach, Didier Deschamps, was the man who lifted the trophy in Paris after defeating Brazil. He has shown that he is a canny operator in this tournament, despite coming into it with a number of detractors. He doesn’t just have Mbappé, but Antoine Griezmann, N’Golo Kante and Raphael Varane, to name but three, and they possess everything a team needs to come out on top on the biggest stage.
I will be bringing you all the buildup, predictions, team news and anything else that crops up before Barry Glendenning takes you through the live action.
Either way, it is going to be a great afternoon for one country!
Kick-off: 4pm BST
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