Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow: A sold-out crowd of 78,Zero11 has packed into the Luzhniki for every of the six video games the stadium has hosted to this point, together with Russia’s 5-Zero opening match win.
It was the fundamental venue for the 1980 Olympics, and earlier than its renovation the largest soccer match it hosted was the 2008 Champions League ultimate, through which John Terry memorably slipped over throughout the penalty shootout as Manchester United beat Chelsea.
N’Golo Kante (France)
Since saying himself on the world stage at Leicester Metropolis of their Cinderella title run of 2015-16, Kante has been synonymous with success.
The defensive midfielder is the beating coronary heart of the crew, usually taking it upon himself to take the opposition’s greatest participant out of the recreation, as he did Lionel Messi in the spherical of 16 and Kevin De Bruyne in the semi-final. Based on Opta statistics, France are unbeaten in 14 video games when Kante and Paul Pogba begin in midfield collectively.
Luka Modric (Croatia)
Has led by instance for the total match – when his teammates may barely transfer in additional time in opposition to Russia, the skipper was nonetheless tirelessly making runs and getting again in defence as if it was the opening 5 minutes.
The posh of getting a quantity 10 who seems as comfy making tackles as he does gliding previous them has allowed the likes Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic to thrive with additional house to work with.
In the dugout
Didier Deschamps (France)
Regardless of reaching a quarter-final and now two finals in his three tournaments in cost, has remained an oft-criticised determine resulting from a mode perceived as not befitting a crew with France’s high quality of participant. Confirmed consciousness in switching from a Four-Three-Three after a stuttering efficiency in the opening recreation in opposition to Australia to convey Olivier Giroud again in as the point of interest of the assault. If France win, will grow to be simply the second man to win a World Cup as each captain and coach.
Zlatko Dalic (Croatia)
Staked his future on the Croatians making the match, and that gamble has paid off massive time – was introduced in needing to win the final qualifying recreation in Ukraine to make the play-offs, did so, smashed Greece and breezed by way of the group stage. Has clearly discovered a system that works, centred round the aspect’s world-class midfield.
The sport plan
France: Adaptability is key for Les Bleus, who’ve adjusted to their opponent masterfully in every recreation. After seeing Belgium’s counter-attacks shred Brazil, France sat deep and allowed their opponent the ball, successfully slicing provide strains to Romelu Lukaku, who was extraordinarily quiet.
They got here out on the entrance foot in opposition to defensively fragile Argentina, and attack-challenged Uruguay, and can look to maintain the ball central to nullify Croatia’s power out large.
Search for Blaise Matuidi to return deep, permitting Paul Pogba to maneuver ahead and create for Kylian Mbappe (who will minimize in lots) and Antoine Griezmann.
Croatia: The place France has made modifications to go well with the state of affairs, Croatia have merely saved doing what has labored so properly. England’s again three have been overrun at occasions by winger/fullback combos on every flank, with Sime Vrsaljko and Ivan Strinic getting ahead to assist their entrance males.
The Croats will probably be conscious that France’s fullbacks are extra comfy in the centre, and can look to use that as usually as potential – Mario Mandzukic is made for the massive stage and is scientific given half an opportunity in the penalty space. With arguably the greatest midfield in the world, they are way more comfy with the ball than most groups on this age of counter-attacking soccer.
The important thing battles
Ivan Perisic vs Benjamin Pavard
The Croatian winger was man of the match in opposition to England, and has had a superb match. Pavard is a centre again at membership degree and query marks dangle over his play out large. He could have his arms full making an attempt to cope with the guile and tempo of the Inter Milan star Perisic.
Luka Modric vs N’Golo Kante
For those who can cease Luka Modric, you cease can Croatia. However with extra kilometres recorded at this World Cup than another participant, it’s simpler mentioned than executed – even for a defensive heavyweight like Kante.
Don’t dismiss the France midfielder as merely a destroyer, although. His eye for a go usually sparks assaults and Modric will must be cautious to not give him house when France has the ball.
Dejan Lovren vs Antoine Griezmann
With Olivier Giroud seemingly tangling with the bodily Domagoj Vida, this leaves the Liverpool defender with the activity of containing the lightning-fast Griezmann, who will drop to seek out house for long-range pictures.
Lovren has performed with a chip on his shoulder all through the match, eager to exorcise the demons of a disappointing displaying in the Champions League ultimate, the place his aspect misplaced to Actual Madrid.
Matt Bungard is a journalist for the Sydney Morning Herald.
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