Samuel Umtiti and Ousmane Dembéle will return to Barcelona as World Cup champions as France defeated Croatia in a memorable Final in Moscow to win their second trophy in the last six tournaments. As they have done throughout their run in Russia, France did not play great football but were just too talented for Croatia and deservedly won one of the best World Cups in history.
The first 45 minutes were not even close to what a final usually is, with two teams just waiting for an opportunity instead of looking for it. Both France and Croatia looked for goals from the very first minute, with the Croatians keeping possession and looking to create chances while the French used their pace and skill up front to hurt the opposition on the counter.
And the goals came fast. First it was Mario Mandžukić who headed a free kick against his own net to give France the lead, then Ivan Perišić equalized, and after VAR gave France a penalty it was Antonie Griezmann’s turn to score for his team. The three goals came in a span of 20 minutes, and at halftime the Final promised a lot of fun for the second half.
Croatia wanted to get a quick goal to start the second half, and they nearly got it when Ante Rebić fired a rocket from the edge of the box, but Hugo Lloris made a spectacular save to keep his team ahead. France looked more and more dangerous on the counter as Croatia increased their pressure, and one of those counters gave the French a two-goal lead when Paul Pogba started a break with an incredible pass and finished the break with a beautiful strike.
When Kylian Mbappé made 4-1 for France with a great strike from distance it seemed like the Final was all but over, but Hugo Lloris made a horrible error and gifted Mario Mandžukić a goal, and all of a sudden the game was alive again. Except it wasn’t, because France did a masterful job of letting time go without being in trouble and without being accused of time-wasting.
Croatia tried everything they could in the final minutes, but the third goal never came and the French celebrated their second World Cup in 20 years with the final whistle. They deserve it despite not having played one truly great match in the entire tournament, but their talent was just too much for all of their opponents.
France: Lloris; Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernández; Mbappé, Pogba, Kanté (Nzonzi), Matuidi (Tolisso); Griezmann, Giroud (Fekir)
Goals: Mandžukić (18’ OG), Griezmann (38’), Pogba (59’), Mbappé (65’)
Croatia: Subašić; Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinić (Pjaca); Modrić, Brozović, Rakitić; Rebić (Kramarić), Mandžukić, Perišić
Goals: Perišić (28’), Mandžukić (69’)