French Flair v gutsy Croatian underdogs
Football legends reveal who they think will win
WHEN the 2018 Fifa World Cup kicked off just over a month ago, no soccer fan could have predicted tomorrow’s final.
Underdogs Croatia go headto-head with European giants France in a mouth-watering clash at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia.
Croatia clinched a spot in the final for the first time in their history having come from behind to defeat England 2-1 in extra time on Wednesday night.
They are the smallest country with a population of 4.2 million to play in a World Cup final since Uruguay in 1950.
While France are hot favourites to lift the trophy for the second time, Croatia is set to provide the toughest challenge yet for Les Bleus.
The Saturday Star asked several African football legends to give their predications for tomorrow’s final, and which players have most impressed them at this year’s spectacle.
Former Bafana Bafana and Charlton Athletic striker:
France will win their second trophy on Sunday with the speed, collective work ethic and tactical discipline they have shown in recent games.
From the beginning of the tournament I backed Brazil, based on the squad, their pedigree and quality on the field. This was without a doubt the best World Cup we’ve seen for a long time based on the unpredictability and performances by the smaller countries. French attacker Kylian Mbappé has been a revelation. He is definitely a player to win the Ballon d’Or.
Former Bafana Bafana, FC Porto and Blackburn Rovers striker:
France will win. I backed them from the beginning.
They have the most balanced team.
My standout players have been Mbappé and Luka Modric (of Croatia).
Former Bafana Bafana and Blackburn Rovers defender:
The two best teams with individual qualities are in the final and I hope we get to watch the best football.
I hope that both teams can play with energy and speed.
Croatia have played 360 minutes of football in 10 days. I think fatigue will kick in during the match… based on this I’m going with France.
I was backing Belgium to win as they turned the corner during qualifications and were playing great football.
Personally, I think the 2010 South Africa World Cup was the best as it was the first on African soil and most people never thought that South Africa could pull it off.
This one has proved people wrong and given people opportunity to experience how warm Russians are and the great history they have.
Former Bafana Bafana, Charlton Athletic and Lazio defender:
The French team has grown over the last few years, and they looked stronger during their qualifiers.
Didier Deschamps was a great appointment.
As a former player he understands what it takes to lift the trophy.
We know that the French have talented players, however, they can surprise at tournaments.
They can either play as superstars or flop.
I fancied France from the beginning, but I really wanted Spain to win.
After the 2014 World Cup the French started looking a lot better but unfortunately they didn’t have the best tournament.
The players that have really impressed have been Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic. They’ve been in amazing form during this tournament .
Also Kylian Mbappé and Antoine Griezmann have been superb for France.
It’s no surprise that these two teams are in the final.
They are two very talented teams.
Former Zambian and PSV Eindhoven striker:
Before the World Cup started, I was hoping that a team like Belgium or Croatia would win.
So I am backing Croatia. I also wanted the African teams to surprise and do well.
For me, the player of the tournament should be the player that takes the team to the final and eventually lifts the trophy.
If you look at the last four teams, the candidates would be: Harry Kane, top goal scorer for the six goals; Mbappé is a rising superstar; Hazard has the ability to dribble, pass and run and Modric has been outstanding in midfield. He is the engine room for the Croatian team.
Despite England’s crushing defeat in their mid-week game against Croatia, English fans gathered in Russia as their team participates in the third-pace play-off match against Belgium today.