Image licensed from USA Today Sports
The tilt between France and Croatia will be played at the Luzhniki Arena in Moscow on July 15th. Croatia has an opportunity to win the World Cup for the first time in the nation’s history, while France is looking to bring home the second gold medal, the first since 1998 when they hosted the tournament.
France vs. Croatia
Three-Way: 1: France -111; X: +229 Draw; 2: Croatia +400
Spread -0.5: France -104; Croatia -103
Total 3 goals: Over +170; Under -227
The Blues made it to the first World Cup finals since 2006 when they suffered a defeat to Italy, and they are hoping to bring home the second title after winning the first one in 1998. France finished at the top of the group ahead of Denmark and although they didn’t have an easy job in the Round of 16 against Argentina, they secured a comfortable 2-0 victory over Uruguay. Didier Deschamps’ side didn’t let the Sky Blues trouble them in the quarter-finals, while they displayed another excellent defensive performance in the semis against Belgium.
The Red Devils had a couple of opportunities in the opening 45 minutes, but Hugo Lloris was unbeatable as he prevented Belgium from scoring, while Samuel Umtiti scored on the other end in the 51st minute, which was the only goal in the match. France allowed only three attempts on target, and after the opening goal, they didn’t let the Belgians create a clear-cut chance, entirely shutting down Romelu Lukaku in the process.
The Blazers are the most pleasant surprise at the World Cup, and even though they had some issues in the Round of 16 and quarter-finals, they managed to defeat Denmark and Russia on the penalty shootout. Danijel Subasic emerged as the nation’s hero thanks to his fantastic saves in the shootout, and there is no doubt he will be one of the individuals Croatia will rely on.
Croatia experienced a successful group phase as they collected maximum nine points, joining Uruguay and Belgium as the only teams to achieve that at the tournament, but they didn’t impress in the first two games of the knockout round.
However, after eliminating Denmark and Russia on penalties, Croatia faced England in the semi-finals, and although they were 1-0 down at halftime, Zlatko Dalic’s side came from behind and earned a 2-1 victory. The Three Lions took an early lead through Kieran Trippier and they had a chance to double the lead, but Harry Kane wasn’t accurate enough, and Croatia punished them in the second half. Ivan Perisic was the one to tie the result in the 68th minute, thanks to his quick thinking and slow reaction from Kyle Walker, while Mario Mandzukic scored a winner in the 109th minute, exploiting John Stones’ slow reaction after a rebound header.
• France hasn’t lost to Croatia in their five meetings including a victory in the 1998 semis
• France hasn’t been behind at half-time at this World Cup
• Three out of the previous five H2H encounters ended without both teams scoring
France is a favorite at -111 and they never lost to Croatia since the first meeting in 1998 when they defeated the Blazers in the semi-finals and later won the only title to date. Croatia proved they have the quality to go all the way, and the fact that the pressure will be on the Blues is a favorable circumstance for Dalic’s men, so they can take advantage of it and make an upset, just as I have predicted in the recent BankTheBet Podcast with Scott Steehn.
The Pick: Croatia to win (+400)