By: Alice Kim
How we landed to 2018 world cup finals which features; Croatia and France
They started their trophy search on a good footing on 16th June 2018 against the Super Eagles of Nigeria at Keliningard Stadium where they garnered the maximum three points thanks to Oghenekaro Etobo 32nd own goal and Luka Modric 71st minute penalty.
On 21st June 2018 at the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium they swatted Lionel Messi’s Argentina side in a very competitive match. There was no goal on the first half of the match but on the 8th minute of second half Ante Rebic netted the first goal of the match opening way for Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic 80th and 90+1 minutes goals respectively which ensured the Croatia side garnered maximum points possible in a football match.
They ended their group D campaign on 28th June at Rostov Arena against Iceland where they won 2-1 thanks to Milan Badelj and Ivan Perisic 53rd and 90th minute’s goals respectively. Iceland’s consolation goal was scored by Gylfi Sigurosson on 76th minute through a penalty kick. They qualified to knock out stage with maximum 9 points.
At Nizhny Novgorod Stadium on 1st July 2018 they faced Denmark in a knockout match and after 120 minutes play they settled to a 1-1 draw thanks to Mario Mandzukic 4th minute equalizer after Denmark’s Mathias Jorgensen 1st minutes goal. Croatia won 3-2 through penalty shootout booking a place to the World cup quarter-finals since 1998 at France.
At Fisht stadium on 7th July 2018, Croatia played against hosts Russia in a very competitive match where they managed to remove them from competition. Russia’s Denis Cheryshev scored first on 31st minute of the game, 8 minutes later Croatia’s Andrej Kramaric on 39th minutes equaled after he scored. After 90 minutes of play they settled at this draw forcing them game to extra 30 minutes. After 10 minutes of play in the added time Croatia’s Damagoj Vida scored giving the visit the lead only for Russia’s Mario Figueira Fernandes to equalize 5 minutes later and the match ended 2-2 draw pushing them to penalty shootout and Croatia carried the day with 4-3.
England fell one win short of its goal of reaching the World Cup final, surrendering a 1-0 lead in Wednesday’s semifinal against Croatia. The Croatians rallied from behind to win 2-1 in extra time thanks to a goal from Mario Mandzukic. Croatia, is off to the World Cup final for the first time in team history. Before this, Croatia’s best finish was third place in France 1998, its first-ever World Cup appearance.
With Croatia playing in its third consecutive extra time match, the team somehow dug deep and found the energy needed to fight off the Three Lions, who looked more tired and fell asleep on the winning goal.
A goal in the second half from Ivan Perisic forced extra time, and Mandzukic’s strike destroyed England’s dream run short, as a team that surpassed expectations and has a bright future failed to really play well after the break. Croatia controlled the ball in the middle, and the experience showed, as it out-shot England 22-11 and completed over 100 passes more in the match.
Croatia was forced to overcome a poor start to the match after England took the lead in the opening minutes on a beautiful goal from Kevin Trippier off a set piece.
Croatia’s dream continues into Sunday’s final against France at the 80,000-capacity Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow.
France ‘’Les Blues’’ opened their campaign at the Kazan Arena on 16th June against Australia with a 2-1 win, Antoine Griezmann 58th minute penalty and Aziz Behich own goal give France the much needed 3 points and Australia’s Mile Jedinak scored from the spot on the 62nd minute.
Les Blues second group match was against Peru at the Ekaterinburg Arena on 21st June 2018 and 19 years old Kylian Mbappe 34th minute goal was the only goal of the match.
They played their final group stage match against Denmark at Luzhniki Stadium on 26th June to a barren draw qualifying to knockout stage with 7 points to face Argentina.
At the Kazan Arena on 30th June they faced Lionel Messi’s Argentina’s side in a very entertaining and competitive match which 19 years old Kylian Mbappe was crowned the man of the match after being found in the box on 12th minutes where penalty was given which was scored by Antoine Griezmann, Benjamin Pavard scored on 57th minute and later on 64th and 68th minutes Mbappe scored twice making it 4 goals. On the other hand Angel Di Maria, Gabriel Mercado and substitute Sergio Aguero scored at the 41st, 48th 90+3 and minutes respectively. It is worth noting that France is unbeaten in their last nine world cup meetings with South American nations, since losing 1-2 against Argentina in the 1978 tournament.
So far France have scored 7 goals and conceded 4 goals.
At Nizhny Nogorod Stadium on 6th July at 14:00 GMT they faced Uruguay a game which Edinson Cavani missed because of injury. Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann scored on 40 th and 61st minutes respectively sending Uruguay home and proceeding to Semis where they will face RomeLU Lukaku’s Belgium side on 10th July at the Saint Petersburg Stadium, a game which is expected to be very competitive.
At the Saint Petersburg Stadium Umtiti header found the back of the net on a corner kick 51 minutes in for the match’s lone goal, and he and his fellow defenders kept Belgium from threatening much. Roberto Martinez’s team was held to just three shots on frame. Belgium had 64 percent possession but struggled with the speed of Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann, while its midfield was outclassed by Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante.
A goal scored on a header early in the second half by Samuel Umtiti, combined with a brilliant defensive performance was enough to carry France past Belgium 1-0 in Tuesday’s semifinal in Saint Petersburg. With the win, Les Bleus have secured a ticket to the 2018 FIFA World Cup final in Moscow. It’s the third time France has reached the final in the last six World Cups.
An unbelievably disciplined defensive showing from the French team left a talented, attacking Belgium team with few options. Two years after losing the Euro 2016 at home, France is now one win away from its second World Cup title as it seeks redemption at the highest of stages.
Umtiti’s header was the perfect start to the second half for France, sending the blue fans into frenzy
They will face Croatia on Sunday 15th July 2018 at the 80,000-capacity Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow