BERLIN: France play Croatia in the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday.
Where: Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
When: Sunday July 15, 1800 local (1500 GMT/1100 ET)
Referee: To be announced
*France are making their third World Cup final appearance, after winning the trophy on home soil in 1998 and losing to Italy in the 2006 showpiece.
*Croatia have never reached a tournament final of any kind. They were semi-finalists in their first World Cup appearance in 1998 after gaining independence following the breakup of Yugoslavia, but lost to eventual winners France 2-1.
*Croatia needed extra time and penalties to beat Denmark in the round of 16 and Russia in the quarter-finals. They also needed extra time to edge England in the last four.
*Croatia have played more than 360 minutes of football in those three matches, excluding time spent on the pitch for penalties in two of them. France needed just 270 minutes in their three knockout games to reach the final.
*After topping their group, France beat Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium to reach the final but never needed more than 90 minutes each time.
*They scored seven goals in these three games, more than double their tally (three goals) in their three group matches.
*France have also had an extra day of rest having beaten Belgium 1-0 in their semi-final on Tuesday. Croatia won 2-1 after extra time against England on Wednesday.
*This is the second international tournament final for France in two years, after also reaching the final of Euro 2016 on home soil only to lose to Portugal.
*Midfielder Luka Modric, forwards Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Perisic are Croatia’s top scorers in the tournament with two goals. Croatia have averaged two goals per game, having netted 12 times in six matches so far.
*The 32-year-old Modric, who will break Croatia’ record for most World Cup appearances (currently 11) if he plays in the final, has also worked harder than any other player in the tournament, having covered a distance of 63km in total according to FIFA statistics.
*France’s top scorers are Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe with three goals apiece in Russia. France have scored a total of 10 goals but have conceded one less than Croatia’s five.
*One Croatia player who will not be at the final, even on the bench, is striker Nikola Kalinic who was sent home from the World Cup after refusing to come on as a substitute in the team’s opening game against Nigeria. Coach Zlatko Dalic said it had happened before both in a friendly against Brazil and in training sessions. Kalinic could not be replaced so Croatia continued in the tournament with a 22-man squad.
*France beat Croatia 2-1 in the 1998 World Cup semi-final with two goals from Lilian Thuram, his only international goals. Current Croatia Football Federation president Davor Suker had put them ahead.
*In total the two sides have met five times, with France still unbeaten by the Croats. The French have won three matches while two ended in a draw, including their Euro 2004 encounter (2-2).
Source: Zee News