France are the 2018 World Cup Champions after they defeated their European counterparts Croatia 4-2. The French ‘golden generation’ has brought home France’s second World Cup trophy. Their only other triumph was in 1998, before star-man Kylian Mbappe was even born. Croatia will be bitterly disappointed by the result, however, they have achieved their nation’s best ever World Cup finish since their independence from Yugoslavia.
France Win 2018 FIFA World Cup
France Edge First Half
Croatia were the better team during the opening exchanges. The Balkan state pressed well and the French struggled to leave their own half during the first 15 minutes. Despite Croatia’s fine start, it was France who opened the scoring in the 18th minute; an Antoine Griezmann free-kick was glanced into his own goal by Juventus star Mario Mandzukic. Croatia were not deterred by this early setback and equalized ten minutes later. A fine Croatian set-piece routine ended up with the ball finding Ivan Perisic at the edge of the box, the Inter wingers strike flew past French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and into France’s net. It was Perisic’s third goal of the tournament and undoubtedly the most important.
In the 35th minute, history was made. The first-ever World Cup Final penalty awarded by VAR. A French corner was adjudged to have been cleared by Perisic by use of his hand. The intent on the handball was unclear and the decision will likely intensify the ongoing debate regarding the video review system. Antoine Griezmann calmly slotted home the resulting penalty to regain the lead for the French. Both French goals came in extremely fortunate circumstances and Croatia would’ve felt extremely aggrieved to be behind at the break.
Paul Pogba added another just before the hour mark. Mbappe broke to the edge of the box and his cross was knocked down by Griezmann into the path of Pogba, the Manchester United man fired home at the second attempt. Less than ten minutes later, Mbappe scored France’s fourth. His strike from outside of the area sealed the win. It was the 19-year-old’s fourth of the tournament and the first goal by a teenager in the World Cup final since Pele for Brazil in 1958.
This goal ought to have killed off the game but a Hugo Lloris blunder less than five minutes later gave Croatia a life-line. The French captain didn’t seem to know where Mandzukic was and he turned into him resulting, in the Croatian stabbing the ball past him. The goal ensured a competitive last half hour of play but the result was never in any real danger.
France Worthy Winners
France have been the best team of the tournament, hands down. The Europeans have looked comfortable throughout. The team were early favourites and comfortably handled this label. The likes of Mbappe, Ousmane Dembele, Benjamin Pavard and Raphael Varane are all still young so this French team could dominate world football for years to come.