FIFA World Cup Finals Review
Sunday, July 15, 2018
The journey to the World Cup has ended and what a wild ride it was. When the smoke cleared, France emerged victorious, winning their first World Cup title in 20 years. Croatia left disappointed, but proud. A team nobody believed could make it, defied the odds and made it, fighting until the bitter end.
The game started with an unexpected goal by Croatia’s star forward Mario Mandzukic – unexpected because the goal was for France. Mandzukic became the first player to score an own goal in World Cup history. His goal put Croatia behind from the beginning, a familiar place for them throughout the tournament.
Croatia dominated the time of possession in the first half, but time after time couldn’t capitalize. Despite being under consistent pressure, France’s defense played exceptionally well, although admittedly, at times lady luck just seemed to swing in their favor.
In Brad Shepard’s World Cup finals preview, he talked about the need for France to finish the job once they began to put the game out of reach for Croatia. That was especially important because of Croatia's unique ability to come from behind. France did exactly that, never letting up and putting the game out of reach.
In the second half, France took a commanding 4-1 lead. Croatia dominated the time of possession in the second half as well, and would score one final time, however, they failed to gain any real momentum after that. They scored on only two goals out of 15 shots.
Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann proved to be a lethal pair for France. Mbappe became the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Brazilian soccer legend Pele did so 60 years ago, and Griezmann, who scored himself, was a significant factor in France’s victory.
Both France and Croatia have bright futures ahead in the FIFA World Cup.
You can follow Brad Shepard on Twitter at @TheBradShepard and email him at Brad@barnburner.ca.