2018 World Cup final predictions: France vs. Croatia picks, upsets by CBS Sports experts
The semifinal round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia is behind us, which means on Sunday a new champion will be crowned in Moscow, as France and Croatia remain. Sunday’s final could end up being the soccer version of David vs. Goliath as Croatia, a nation that became independent in 1991 and has only been past the group stage twice, including a third-place finish in 1998.
France stood in the way of Croatia in the 1998 semifinal and wound up winning its first World Cup title on home soil that year. France has been to three finals over the last six World Cups. France now stands in the way of Croatia’s pursuit of winning an elusive first World Cup title.
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This tournament has been filled with surprises, and we could be in store for another one on Sunday. With that said, our CBS Sports prognosticators have locked in their predictions for the final below. Enjoy!
2018 FIFA World Cup final picks: France vs. Croatia
Sunday, July 15, 11 a.m. ET, stream on fuboTV (Try for free)
Thomas Rongen’s take: Transition speed offense over possession . Prediction: France 3, Croatia 1.
Roger Gonzalez’s take: It’s the underdog against the favorite, and all signs point to France winning. France is well rested, it’s had some stiff tests in the knockout stage, and it has a guy in N’Golo Kante to take care of Luka Modric. If France is cautious at the back and plays the ball out quickly, combined with what it has in the final third, it should win. Prediction: France 2, Croatia 1.
Igor Mello’s take: France takes the early lead on an Antoine Griezmann goal and controls the possession of the game, but Croatia scores in the final minute of regulation on a VAR assisted penalty kick scored by Luka Modric to send it to extra time, Croatia’s fourth consecutive extra-time affair in the knockout stage. Danijel Subasic is the hero again and Croatia wins on penalties to capture an unprecedented World Cup title. Prediction: Croatia 1, France 1 (Croatia wins in penalties).
Tom Fornelli’s take: Croatia has been my Cinderella this entire tournament, but it’s going to come to an end in the final. This final will be the beginning of what should be a strong run for France on the international scene the next few years. Prediction: France 2, Croatia 0.
Sean Wagner-McGough’s take: France boasts the more talented starting XI to begin with and then there’s the fact that Croatia’s legs might be dead. Croatia’s last three matches have gone to extra time while France gets the benefit of an extra day of rest before the final. Croatia is a special team doing special things to this point, but it’ll be hard pressed to find a way to penetrate France’s defense. Expect France to get the goal it needs and then dictate the rest of the game. Don’t expect a blowout, but expect France to control this one and turn a 1-0 game into a bit of a boring affair. Prediction: France 1, Croatia 0.