With less than 48 hours to go until the 2018 World Cup final, the focus is switching to who will line up for France and Croatia in Moscow with the biggest prize in world soccer on the line.
[ MORE: Key battles in WC final ]
Both Didier Deschamps and Zlatko Dalic have fielded very settled teams throughout this competition and after gruelling runs to the final, both look set to leave their teams as settled as possible. Dalic will go with his “golden generation” as they’re almost at the end of their international careers, while Deschamps will put faith in his young squad to get them over the line.
[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]
Croatia have a few more injury problems than France with Mario Mandzukic and Ivan Strinic coming off in the semifinal win against England with knocks, while Blaise Matuidi is expected to recover.
[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]
Below we project the starting lineup for both teams and provide some analysis as to why Messrs Deschamps and Dalic will choose these 11 players.
France (4-3-2-1 formation)
—– Lloris —–
—- Pavard —- Varane —- Umtiti —- Lucas —-
—- Pogba —- Kante —- Matuidi —-
—– Griezmann —– Mbappe —–
—– Giroud —–
France have a very settled back four as young full backs Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez have been revelations at this tournament, plus Hugo Lloris is well and truly back to his best. The midfield trio picks itself, as long as Matudi is fit, as Tolisso is ready to come in if the PSG midfielder doesn’t recover from his knock against Belgium. Up top Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann will look to wreck havoc underneath targetman Olivier Giroud, with Ousmane Dembele ready to come off the bench when needed.
Croatia (4-3-3 formation)
—– Subasic —–
—- Vrsaljko —- Lovren —- Vida —- Strinic —-
—- Modric —- Brozovic —- Rakitic —-
—- Rebic —- Mandzukic —- Perisic —-
Following Sime Vrsaljko’s incredible recovery from injury to face England, Dalic’s two main injury concerns are Mandzukic and Strinic who both limped off in the semifinal. Lovren and Vida have been solid at center back, while the midfield has stolen the show for Croatia. Yes, we all know and love Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic for their silky passing and incredible workrate (Modric has covered 63 km during the tournament, more than any other player) but Marcelo Brozovic has been brilliant in winning the ball back and feeding his midfield partners. Up top Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic have worked tirelessly out wide and Mandzukic should be fit to lead the line after his game-winner against England. If he isn’t, expect Andrej Kramaric to come in with the Hoffenheim forward a handy attacking option off the bench too.