Could Croatia take revenge on France for their defeat in 1998? Expect Croatia to come to a standstill on Sunday evening at 5 pm as all eyes turn to the World Cup Final. This is the first time Croatia has gone so far in the competition and confidence is high that the Croatian national team are every bit the match of the current French team.
The furthest Croatia have previously reached in the competition was at the 1998 World Cup in France when they reached the semi-finals. They were knocked out of the competition by the home nation, France, in a 2 – 1 defeat. France went on to win the World Cup that year, with Croatia taking the third place medals after defeating The Netherlands in the third place playoffs.
Could this be the year that Croatia takes revenge on France for that defeat? Expectations are high and after knocking out England in the semi-finals, the widespread belief in Croatia is that anything is possible.
Croatian players including goalkeeper Danijel Subašić, striker Mario Mandžukić and defenders Ivan Strinić and Domagoj Vida have all had a terrific campaign so far, the latter shrugging off the negativity directed towards him from some sections of the terraces in recent games. Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić and Ivan Perišić have proved to be the best midfield presently on the international stage. It is perhaps their game more than that of any others that have so far proved superior to the same positions among their opponents.
France's own team is not without its midfield talents, including Manchester United player Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante, who currently is signed to Chelsea. But it is hoped that the experience (not to mention the desire) of Modrić, Rakitić and Perišić will hold an edge over the youthfulness and speed of their counterparts, just as it did in the semi-final against England.
France's young strikers Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann pose a significant threat (more so, you would think, than the misfiring Olivier Giroud). But is this threat really more of an intimidation for Croatia to face than the line up of young Premier League greats like Raheem Sterling, Harry Kane, Marcus Rashford, Dele Alli, Jamie Vardy and Jesse Lingard who they faced in the last round? You would have to say not.
We will not have too long to wait and see. The World Cup Final is at 5 pm on Sunday. Ajmo Hrvatska!