All eyes will be on France's Kylian Mbappe who is expected to help his team lift the World Cup trophy. Photo: Michael Dalder/Reuters

Feel it, it is here! The World Cup final is on our doorstep, with the unlikely contenders Croatia taking on favourites France.

But is there a chance of an upset at the Luzhniki Stadium today?

5pm (SA time): France v Croatia

Kylian Mbappé, Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmann… powerhouses from all angles on attack from France, and if they are on song today, they are hard to stop.

But we’ve seen Croatia being written off before, and they’ve emerged victorious.

They swept aside Argentina 3-0 in the group stages, and dealt easily with Nigeria in a 2-0 triumph.

Even when they got to the knockouts, extra time and penalty shoot-outs didn’t deter them.

But to be honest, they haven’t faced a “big-name team” in the second round, quarter-final and semi-final.

Being drawn against Denmark, Russia and England is not the toughest run that World Cup finalists would’ve hand to contend with.

Compare that to France – an easy enough group stage against Australia, Peru and Denmark, but then it became real: Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium.

It was a 4-3 thriller against Lionel Messi and Co, but a confident 2-0 win over Uruguay and 1-0 victory especially against a star-studded Belgian outfit suggests that Didier Deschamps’ team mean business.

Pogba spoke in the build-up about the hurt of losing the Euro 2016 final to Portugal, where he admitted that France thought they had it won already after beating Germany in the semi-final.

They won’t be underestimating Croatia this time around. Luka Modric is the star of the show for the Balkan nation, but perhaps the real dangerman is winger Ivan Perisic, who is able to score goals and get in behind the defence with his speed and lethal left boot.

France have the “insurance policy” of N’Golo Kanté to try to stop Modric from delivering final passes, shooting on goal and generally creating magic in the well-oiled Croatian engine.

Dejan Lovren and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic will be the key men in the Croatian defence, but they will have their hands full.

Maybe France’s best bet is to run hard early on and try to dent Croatia’s confidence with an early goal, and they certainly have the ammunition…

Prediction: France 1-0 Croatia!


IOL Sport

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