France midfielder Blaise Matuidi is set to start despite being forced off against Belgium following a heavy collision with Eden Hazard. Although he appeared dazed after the incident, Matuidi is not believed to have suffered a concussion. Head coach Zlatko Dalic admits Croatia have some “minor injuries” to contend with.
Winger Ivan Perisic is reportedly nursing an injury and missed training on Friday. Centre-back Domagoj Vida is available for selection after being cleared by Fifa for appearing in a video in which he appears to again say “Glory to Ukraine!”
Marcelo Brozovic is likely to keep his place after impressing against England. Fellow midfielder Ivan Rakitic played 120 minutes against the Three Lions despite suffering from a fever the previous night. “I was lying in bed finding the strength to play and it was worth it,” Rakitic said after the semi-final win. “I would play a final without a leg if necessary,” he added.
So football’s not coming home – but it might be heading next door. England’s cross-channel neighbours France have the chance to join an elite club – that of multiple World Cup winners – when they take on Croatia on Sunday. Only Brazil, Germany, Italy, Argentina and Uruguay have been crowned world champions on more than one occasion.
But should France falter at the final hurdle, just as they did at Euro 2016, Croatia will become only the ninth different country to lift the trophy? With a population of just 4.3m – a third the size of Moscow – they would also be the second smallest country to win it, behind Uruguay (1930 and 1950).
VIEW FROM BOTH CAMPS
France head coach Didier Deschamps: “There is a spirit in the squad that can move mountains. They are young and they will be even stronger in two and four years’ time.”
“We have created an opportunity to become world champions but we are still not there. But we want to fulfil our destiny.”
Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic: “At this World Cup, the star-studded teams relying on the big names are already on the beach. It’s the compact, united teams fighting for something that are still around.
“It’s been the strangest World Cup. Football has advanced so much so any team can have a well-organised defence, so there are no huge winning margins and the team is everything.
“This was our problem for 10 years, we had great individuals but no unity and that’s why I had to build that unity of purpose in the team.”
We have seen France are efficient and able to stop teams from playing through them, but they are also very dangerous going forward.
They have been the best team here in Russia, and that’s why I am backing them to be world champions.
Source: BBC News