Web Desk(July 15, 2018): Here we are now. And how they have entertained us! As the most attractive, most open football World Cup in recent memory approaches its conclusion, after four-and-a-half weeks of thrilling, nerve-shredding, who-dares-wins play from 32 teams, only two are left standing.
In Moscow France — one of the pre-tournament favourites — will play Croatia today— who no one gave a ghost of a chance before the tournament began — for the most glorious prize in international football.What a final we have on our hands. And what a study in contrast the two teams are.
France, a traditional football powerhouse, former World and European champions, blessed with a new generation of lethal attacking talent, counting among their number the audaciously gifted 19-year-old Kylian Mbappe, who is the breakout star of the tournament, the only teenager after Pele to have scored three goals in the World Cup finals, defensively drilled, discipline blended to perfection with verve, managed by a former World Cup and Euro winner.And who are they up against? Croatia, a country with a population of four million, forged by war, with no formal football education system, who have never been in a final before, led by Luka Modric, a genius of a playmaker who is one of the most underrated footballers in the world, a man who, with his slight build and 1970s hairstyle, looks a throwback to a different era, the very antithesis of the buffed, tattooed and elaborately coiffured modern, elite footballer.
Openness and unpredictability have been two of the tropes that have defined this tournament. They have been two recurring themes of this World Cup. The matchup between France and Croatia in the final is a tribute to these motifs, the perfect coda to a perfect tournament.