World Cup Final Preview – France vs. Croatia Betting Odds and Predictions
Published on July 12, 2018
The soccer World Cup is almost over now, but the most important game of the tournament is yet to be played. France will meet Croatia in the final, and I would say that both teams deserve to be here.
I can’t say I’m that surprised, since I picked those two as the value bets before the competition started. No disrespect to Belgium and England, but I feel that this is one of the few World Cups in which the best two teams actually meet in the final.
I can’t wait to watch this game and enjoy the action, but as always, my main goal is to find some good betting opportunities. Let’s take a look at what we’ve got for the World Cup final.
Here’s what the bookies offer when it comes to the main betting markets for this match.
France has been the most solid team in the World Cup so far, and it’s only natural for the bookies to favor them. The European side already beat a bunch of great teams like Argentina, Uruguay, and Belgium.
On top of that, France was in trouble only once in the tournament, and it was more a matter of luck for the other team than a shortcoming of their own. This is why I feel they deserve to be the favorite here.
At the same time, Croatia was probably the best team in the group stage of the soccer World Cup, but they looked unconvincing for most of the knockouts. The Balkan side had to go through the hell of the penalty shootouts twice but still managed to reach the final.
They are probably the toughest team from a mental perspective, and this is something that can’t be underestimated in a knockout tournament.
It’s curious that Croatia had drawn all three games after the groups, and all of them finished 1-1. Combine that with the pragmatic approach of France, and you will certainly understand why the odds for the under 2.5 goals market are so low.
Here’s what France has done in the tournament so far.
In the group stage, France had to play the teams of Australia, Peru, and Denmark. The side was the favorite to finish first, but the competition was no joke. Each of the opponents played well and had their chances.
Yet the French side managed to win against Australia and Peru. This guaranteed a place in the last 16, and the draw against Denmark was enough to win the group.
The first of them was against Messi’s Argentina. Despite the poor performance so far, the South Americans were a tough challenge. France dominated most of the game, but a wonder goal by Di Maria and a deflection put Argentina ahead at some point.
This is the only moment of the soccer World Cup when France was behind, and the team responded in an impressive fashion. They brutalized the opponent and scored 3 goals within 11 minutes.
I believe this was the moment I thought the French side could do the job.
They were never in such danger in the next two games, beating Uruguay and Belgium with 2-0 and 1-0 respectively. Although France needed one brilliant save from goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in both matches, they displayed an exceptional discipline at the back and composure up front.
As a result, this is the third time France will play in a soccer World Cup final. They won the first one and lost the second. But can they match the 1998 glory, or will they lose a second straight final after falling just short in EURO 2016?
From what we’ve seen so far, it wouldn’t be a stretch to say that France has the best squad in this World Cup, and there are no weak links in this team.
It looked like the defense might be a bit suspect in the group stage, as Australia found the net, and Peru had plenty of chances. On top of that, France conceded 3 goals against Argentina, which raised further questions.
The team responded in a brilliant fashion, and I think Didier Deschamps deserves credit here. He gave more defensive responsibilities to his attacking players, which resulted in two clean sheets.
During the semifinal, you could clearly see Griezmann, Giroud, and Mbappe go back and join the midfielders during the Belgian attacks. I’m impressed with the work ethic of the forwards, and I expect more of the same in the final.
At the same time, France didn’t lose sharpness. The team is capable of scoring in various ways, and we already saw that. It was the pace of Mbappe that made the difference against Argentina, while the side used set pieces to beat Belgium and Uruguay.
If you add the exceptional Hugo Lloris, it’s hard to find a weakness in this French squad. The goalkeeper had to make two important saves, and he did his job perfectly. Both have a solid claim for save of the tournament, especially the one against Belgium.
And here’s how Croatia got here.
Many believed Argentina would win the group that also included Croatia, Iceland, and Nigeria. Instead, the South Americans were trashed 3-0 by the Balkan side that beat the other two teams as well.
As a result, Croatia won the group convincingly and was the best team in the group stage. The goal difference in this stage was 7-1, and it was obvious that this is a country that has the potential to complete a deep run in the World Cup.
Croatia faced Denmark and hosts Russia after qualifying from their group. They went behind early on both occasions. Still, the team managed to come back and reach the penalty shootouts in both cases, winning twice.
Many believed that Croatia would be too tired physically and emotionally to beat England. This was not the case, as the side played one of its best games in the World Cup.
Despite the slow start that cost them a goal, Croatia dominated the second half and managed to equalize.
On top of that, they looked stronger in the extra time and managed to snatch the victory after Mandzukic found the net, having missed a glorious chance a couple of minutes before that. As a result, Croatia will play in the first World Cup final in its history.
It’s also the smallest nation to reach this stage since 1950.
There are a couple of things that can’t be ignored. For a start, Croatia has the best midfield duo in the soccer World Cup. Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic have been great for most of the tournament. They are capable of controlling the ball and finding opportunities to create danger.
It seems as if the Croatians find it difficult at the start of the games, though. They’ve conceded early in each of the three knockout matches played so far.
They did manage to come back, which is a testimony to the character of this team, but France is a completely different animal, and the Balkan side can’t afford to go behind so early again.
I believe France will try to replicate the match against Belgium. The team will be happy to sit back and defend for most of the time, using any opportunity to counter or pressure Croatia from set pieces.
At the same time, giving the likes of Modric and Rakitic too much of the ball is hardly a good idea, as England realized in the semis.
I think this will be an extremely tight game, and surprisingly for many, Croatia will probably be the team that attacks more. At the same time, the French side is very clinical. This is why I can see them winning 1-0 at the end.
I see France as the slight favorite in this match, but the price for them to win in regular is laughable, and the option for them to lift the trophy is even worse. This is why I will skip those two and a take a look at the other betting markets.
The over/under 2.5 goals is not something I like, either. I don’t see many goals, but 1.44 for the under is way too low.
This is why I will try another market that brought me some success during the World Cup so far. I think both teams will be patient and focus on not conceding early on. The draw at half time is priced at 1.90, and this is good enough for me.
It’s time for one last shot at the BetVictor Million Pound Bet.
I feel Croatia will have more of the ball, but France will have the better chances. As a result, the Balkan side should find it difficult to score.
France seems like the best team in the soccer World Cup far, and the logical finale would be for them to win the trophy. At the same time, Croatia already beat three sides that went ahead against them in the knockout stages, so they are mentally prepared to overcome every obstacle.
Who do you expect to win the World Cup? I would love to hear your opinion in the comments below.