World Cup 2018: France v Croatia

It all comes down to this - Les Bleus face the Croats in the World Cup final

Patrick Madden Sun, Jul 15
LIVE: World Cup 2018: France v Croatia

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  • Good afternoon!

    Welcome to our coverage of the World Cup final, between France and Croatia, in Moscow (kick-off 4.0).

    And then, the rain came. The yawning, aching summer finally broke, the beer gardens emptied and normality resumed. The sun disappeared from the sky as the sun set on this summer's tournament.

    But what a tournament it has been.

    Russia's five-star opening, Ronaldo's free-kick, Iceland keeping Messi at bay, Mexico stunning the world champions, VAR giving Griezmann a head start.

    Modric laying down an early marker against Argentina, Kroos giving Germany hope, England routing Panama while Godin and Gimenez proved unbreachable.

    More VAR lunacy as Iran nearly stun Portugal, Marcos Rojo sending Maradona into a frenzy - Neuer is up for a corner, Son sends the Germans home.

    The last-16, Mbappe's moment, Japan nearly topple the Belgium as Uruguay send Ronaldo packing. Russia rock Spain on penalties before England finally hold their nerve.

    The golden generation had Neymar's Brazil in an endless spin, Croatia outstay the hosts in their latest marathon. Southgate and his waistcoat sweep past Sweden - football's coming home.

    Les Bleus are too cold and clinical for the Red Devils. The Croats break more hearts as England's summer of love ends in tears.

    And it all boils down to today. The surprisingly steely French against the indomitable Croatians - a final fit for the best tournament in a generation.

    The 2022 World Cup is to be held in Qatar in November and December, before 48 teams take part in the 2026 edition. Even if Ireland make it in four years time, it's hard to escape the feeling it will never be this much fun again.

    We'll be bringing you all of the action from the Luzhniki Stadium, so for one last time - here's to a good one.

    Come on!!!


    France: Lloris; Pavard, Umtiti, Varane, Hernandez; Matuidi, Kante, Pogba; Griezmann, Giroud, Mbappe.

    Croatia: Subasic; Strinic, Vida, Lovren, Vrsaljko; Rakitic, Brozovic, Modric; Rebic, Mandzukic, Perisic.

  • Both teams are at full strength for the final fling.
  • Now that is a serious barnet from a young Ivan Rakitic.

    France eased through a group containing Australia, Denmark and Peru despite never really getting out of first gear. They dazzled on the break against Argentina in the last-16, before showing their defensive qualities to grind past Uruguay and then Belgium.

    Croatia meanwhile were arguably the team of the group stage - making light work of Nigeria and Argentina before seeing off Iceland. The knockouts have seen them scrape past Denmark and and Russia on pens before beating England in extra-time. They've got guts.

  • This could prove to be the tournament when Kylian became king. France's 19-year-old forward was far from being an unknown quantity heading into the World Cup but he has been breath taking in Russia.

    Watching him brings back memories of  O Fenômeno - the original Ronaldo - with his spellbinding blend of pace, skill and goalscoring ability.

    Emmet Malone is at the Luzkhniki today, and he has written about the heir to the throne of Cristiano Ronaldo and Messi. You can read that HERE.

  • 30 mins until kick-off!
  • From one Fresh Prince, to another. . .

    If there's one thing this tournament has been lacking, it's a performance from Will Smith. Luckily Vlad has put a call in and he's at the Luzhniki for the closing ceremony. A slight upgrade on Robbie Williams (sorry Nan).

  • France came into the tournament with the strongest squad - including a pretty stunning array of young, vibrant attacking options. However, it has been their defensive resolve which has been most impressive - Raphael Varane in particular has been outstanding. Their defensive foundations have been strengthened by the midfield duo of N'Golo Kante and Paul Pogba. Kante has been at his pesky best throughout, while Pogba has flourished in a more disciplined role.

    But that pairing face their sternest test this afternoon - mainly in the form of Luka Modric. The Real Madrid midfielder has been sublime all summer, practically carrying Croatia at times. The best player in the world? He's surely close to it.

  • These two sides, of course, have serious World Cup history. They met in the 1998 semi-finals, as Lilian Thuram scored twice to help France overturn   Davor Suker's opener.

    If you want to feel old, Mbappe wasn't even born when the French lifted the trophy on home soil.

  • Here comes the World Cup trophy! Carefully delivered pitchside in a Louis Vuitton suitcase and then presented to the Luzhniki by Philipp Lahm. Naturally.
  • The teams are in the tunnel!
  • Anthems done, the teams shake hands.

    Today's ref is Argentina's Nestor Pitana.

  • France are the 'home' side meaning they get to wear blue, Croatia in their red and white table cloth ensemble.
  • Here we go.


  • 1 min: Early possession for Croatia deep and a touch for Lovren - who was very bullish about his talents this week. Let's see how he fares against Mbappe.
  • 3 min: A nice flick from Mandzukic to the busy Rebic who loses the ball. Croatia press France but they're penalised for a Modric foul - his second in the early stages.
  • 4 min: Perisic forces Pavard into a mistake on the right and hares towards the box but overruns it. Predictably tenacious start from Croatia off the ball.
  • 5 min: Croatia have enjoyed the best of the opening exchanges, Vrsaljko getting to the byline and clipping it towards the penalty spot where Varane heads it clear.
  • 6 min: A good-looking ball from Kante to Hernandez down the left zips off the turf and out for a throw. France yet to click into gear.
  • 8 min: Mbappe switches off and lets Strinic go on the inside, but shows great pace to recover and force the ball behind for a corner. Lloris comes to punch Modric's delivery away but Giroud clears ahead of him.
  • 10 min: Modric humming early, he finds Strinic out on the left with an excellent ball. He pulls it back to Perisic who fluffs his cross. Still, Croatia on top.
  • 11 min: Perisic gets in behind Varane but his first touch is heavy. France can't get on the ball at the moment.
  • 13 min: A rare spell of possesison for France and Varane zips a pass to Mbappe on the right - his touch is heavy abnd Perisic pounces. Deschamps won't be happy wih what he's see thus far.
  • 15 min: Perisic is in on the left - but his final ball is poor, Umtiti easily clearing a low cross. He lacks for consistency at times.
  • 16 min: Matuidi is dropping a bit deeper now to help out Kante and Pogba - Kante searching for Mbappe over the top. Moments later Mbappe gets Strinic one on one and beats him on the outside, his pull back is turned away.
  • 18 min: Griezmann draws a soft foul from Brozovic down the inside right channel - dangerous free-kick for France.


  • Brilliant delivery from Griezmann, Mandzukic jumps to clear but flicks it into the top corner beyond Subasic. Croatia's brilliant start goes to waste.


  • 21 min: Kante fouls Modric out on the right - that is turning into a serious battle already. Modric to swing in the free-kick from the right - Vida steers it miles over the bar.

    France have been excellent at shutting down games so far - but they've got a long way to go here.

  • 23 min: The first real glimpse for Mbappe on the right but his touch is heavy. Croatia counter and a foul from Pavard gives them another free-kick - Modric swings it in and Lloris fists it clear.
  • 24 min: A stretched passage of play ends with Rakitic volleying wildly over from the left. The less structured this is, the more it will aid Croatia's chances of a comeback.
  • 27 min: Perisic cuts across Kante and gets brought down - booking for the French midfielder. Croatia's latest free-kick is fairly central.


  • Modric floats the free-kick towards Vrsaljko at the back post. He heads it back into the box and France can't get it clear. It drops for Perisic on the edge, he uses his thigh to work the space for a shot on his left and then rasps and absolute stunner past Lloris into the far corner. Woof!


  • fergal I can never recall his name, but I really wish that Kerr were presenting rather than Mr Sourpuss
  • Mr Sourpuss = Ronnie Whelan.
  • 33 min: France have their first corner from the right. Griezmann whips it in towards Matuidi at the near post - Perisic bundles it behind.

    France are looking for a handball by the goalscorer - replays show it clearly hit his hand but he didn't know anything about it. The ref is going to check with VAR.

  • 36 min: The ref checks with VAR and after an eternity points to the spot. It's incredibly harsh but a prescedent has been set at this tournament - think Iran against Porgual and Cedric being penalised.


  • Never in doubt - Griezmann sends Subasic the wrong way and rolls it into the left corner.


  • 41 min: Hernandez picks up a booking for a foul on Rebic. Excellent tackle from Pogba on the edge of the French box and Mbappe scampers after the clearance but Vida sweeps up.
  • 43 min: Croatia lump another free-kick into the box. Perisic's header is cleared as far as Lovren - he thrashes it towards goal where Pogba blocks brilliantly again.
  • 45 min: Another Croatian corner from the left - it's delayed while Umtiti gets treatment in the box. Rakitic swings it in where Vida glances a header well wide of the far post.
  • 45 min: Actually, it's not half time. That wasn't the ref's whistle.
  • 46 min: Matuidi fouls Modric, Croatia move it quickly. Great ball from Vrsaljko - Lloris is rooted to the spot - but there's no red and white shirt to follow it in.

    And breathe. . .

  • The teams are back out for the second half. Can Croatia keep coming back?
  • We're back underway!
  • 46 min: Giroud holds up a long ball well and lays it off to Griezmann - his shot is easy for Subasic.
  • 47 min: Good link up between Perisic and Rakitic and the latter releases Rebic - he's forced wide but Lloris has to tip his shot over. The corner sparks brief panic in the French box before they're reprieved with a goal kick.
  • 49 min: Lloris has to be quick off his line to intercept a long ball with Perisic in hot pursuit. Moments later Mandzukic pick pockets Varane - the French defender has the pace to recover. It's still all Croatia.
  • 51 min: Kante isn't having his finest game today and is treading on eggshells after that early booking. He's dispossessed by Modric in midfield - France can't gain any foothold.
  • 52 min: But there's the danger. Pogba releases Mbappe down the right, with Vida scrambling to cover. If the French forward goes down he has claims for a penalty, but instead shoots from the angle and Subasic saves.
  • 54 min: A dangerous ball is clipped into the box and Lloris is clattered by Mandzukic. Kante is being replaced by Nzonzi.
  • 55 min: A rare glimpse between the lines for Griezmann but he's quickly forced off it. Mbappe then tries to do too much on the right and is tackled by Strinic. France can't get it going at all.
  • 58 min: Mandzukic finds Rebic inside who switches it beautifully for Perisic on the left - his cross is too heavy. Croatia need to keep the intensity up, but remember they've played an extra hour on France.


  • Excellent from Paul Pogba. He starts the move with a stunning, raking ball for Mbappe to tear onto. Mbappe crosses and Griezmann lays it off for the Manchester United midfielder. His first shot it blocked, but then he curls a second into the far corner with his left foot. Sublime.


  • 63 min: Croatia back on the ball, probing outside the French final third. Still plenty of tenacity but they look more likely to get a man sent off than to get back into it.


  • And that's all she wrote. Hernandez scampers down the left and pulls it back to Mbappe. Mbappe uses the defender as a shield and then whips a brilliant low effort into the bottom left corner, with Subasic stuck in quicksand. He gets his goal.




  • A lifeline for Croatia, and it's suicidal stuff from Lloris. Umtiti plays it back to his 'keeper and captain - he takes a touch and tries to knock it past the onrushing Mandzukic. Mandzukic gets a touch and turns it into the goal. Karius-esque. Completely bonkers.


  • 73 min: A change for France - Tolisso replacing Matuidi, who as you can imagine takes his time getting off the pitch.
  • 75 min: Vrsaljko releases Perisic down the right, he cuts back inside and whips one towards the penalty spot where Varane clears with a towering header. They're keeping at it.
  • 77 min: Croatia pressing. Modric feints on his right but turns and delivers a great cross with his left. It's cleared as far as Rakitic who drills a half-volley across goal and out for a goal kick. This is gripping.
  • 79 min: France break though Mbappe who has Vida backpedalling at speed, but he loses control of the ball in the Croatian box. There wasn't a single blue shirt up to support him - France looking to shut up shop.
  • 81 min: Two changes. Fekir replaces Giroud, Pjaca on for Strinic.
  • 82 min: And Pjaca's first involvement is to let an excellent ball from Brozovic skid off his shins and out for a goal kick. They're running out of time.
  • 85 min: Every French shirt behind the ball, Croatia can't find the killer pass.
  • 88 min: Lloris leaps to claim a cross ahead of Mandzukic. France are nearly there.
  • 89 min: Rakitic lets fly from distance but it's a wild, tired effort.
  • There'll be five mintues added time.
  • 92 min: Mbappe picks it off and slides it to Pogba. He tries to stand up Lovren in the box but it squirts to the 'keeper. Griezmann scampers towards the left corner and is brought down by Atletico team mate Vrsaljko.
  • 93 min: Mbappe curls it to Pogba into the box and he completely misses his kick! Luckily, he won't be left to rue that one.
  • 95 min: One last cross from the left by Perisic, which floats into the arms of Lloris.


  • Tonight's final pretty much summed up France's tournament. They scored four goals despite spending the majority fo the first half under relentless pressure. This was a victory built on their spine - particularly Varane, Pogba and Mbappe. Aged 25, 25 and 19 respectively.
  • Eamon Dunphy has been positively gushing about Pogba in the RTE studio. This summer has done some funny things. A penny for the thoughts of Graeme Souness. . .
  • Dunphy is still talking about Pogba.
  • The French players are draped in tricolours, waiting to get their hands on the trophy.
  • The sublime Modric gets the golden ball for player of tournament - and then has to pose for a picture with the trophy. Deserved.

    Mbappe meanwhile gets the award for young player of the tournament, his snap is slightly less solemn and more likely to make the mantlepiece.

  • England's Harry Kane wins the golden boot - although he's obviously not here to collect the award. He scored six - but must be the only striker to top score despite suffering a goal drought at the same tournament.
  • Croatia collect their loser's medals, just as the heavens burst open. It's lashing down with rain. Emergency umbrellas are being brought onto the podium to keep Vlad dry.

  • It really is hooping down.
  • Mbappe lets on to Putin with a little nod. 19-years-old, no fear.
  • Macron embraces every French player and Deschamps. Finally skipper Lloris comes through.
  • Quite a bizarre ending as the France side are herded to a smaller stage and Gianni Infantino picks his way through mass of French of bodies to deliver the trophy.

    Finally, in the teeming Moscow rain, Lloris lifts the World Cup.

  • Thank VAR - and Harry Maguire.
  • And there we go. France are fitting champions of what was a stunning World Cup.  

    The summer of 2018 - never to be forgotten. Thanks for joining us throughout.