Mbappe, France to face Mo­dric, Croati

Standard-Freeholder (Cornwall) - - SPORTS - GRA­HAM DUN­BAR

MOSCOW — Kylian Mbappe has elec­tri­fied the World Cup with his speed and youth­ful ex­u­ber­ance. Luka Mo­dric has coolly con­trolled matches in Rus­sia with his grace­ful play in the mid­dle.

Whether France wins its sec­ond ti­tle in 20 years or Croatia raises the tro­phy for the first time Sunday at the Luzh­niki Sta­dium in front of Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin and nearly a bil­lion tele­vi­sion view­ers could turn on the play of the two stars.

Th e19-year-old Mbappe has been the big­gest sen­sa­tion at the tour­na­ment in Rus­sia, scor­ing three goals — in­clud­ing two against Ar­gentina in the round of 16 — and cre­at­ing havoc for op­pos­ing de­fences with his pace and his agility.

“It’s go­ing to be the big­gest match of my life, for sure,” the Paris Saint-Ger­main for­ward said Fri­day.

Al­though Mbappe has im­pressed for France at the month-long tour­na­ment, Mo­dric has been the rock and the spark for Croatia. When the Real Madrid mid­fielder has the ball at feet, good things seem to hap­pen for Croatia.

“Even when you think they’re go­ing to lose, or go­ing to crack, they al­ways have the men­tal­ity to come back,” Mbappe said of the Croa­t­ian team. “It’s a team that plays with a lot of in­ten­sity.”

France last won the World Cup ti­tle in 1998, at home. The French de­feated Croatia in the semi­fi­nals that year, which un­til now had been the coun­try’s best show­ing at the tour­na­ment.

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