It was Belgium who took third place following a 2-0 win over England that saw Thomas Meunier and Eden Hazard on the scoresheet.
A quick start saw Meunier score inside four minutes and England did get a foothold in the game. They came close in the second-half when Toby Alderweireld cleared Spurs teammate Eric Dier’s dink off the line but the Red Devils held a threat on the break and that’s how they wrapped up the victory.
The World Cup Final beckons for France and Croatia – here’s the preview!
France vs Croatia (16:00)
Euro 2016 runners-up France have progressed to another final under Didier Deschamps stewardship despite criticism from the way he sets up his sides.
He can point to that being a success though considering his Les Blues side are unbeaten at this tournament having scored ten goals and kept four clean sheets.
Croatia won all three group games but have done it the hard way since with all three knockout games seeing at least 120 minutes.
Their semi-final win against England was won in extra-time by Mario Mandžukić capitalising on a lapse in concentration but it was the Blazers who found something in the second-half of normal time to show how good they can be.
Blaise Matuidi should be able to start after going off against Belgium following a coming together with Eden Hazard.
No lasting or serious damage was done and he has passed concussion protocol, so should keep his starting berth.
However, Zlatko Dalic has more to contend with given the injuries and knocks his players have sustained through the extra periods.
Man of the match against England, Ivan Perisic missed training on Friday while defender Domagoj Vida has been cleared to play by FIFA following an online video.
World Cup Final Trends
The previous three finals have all seen the need for extra-time before they were settled. Brazil’s win over Germany back in 2002 was the last time one was won in 90 minutes.
In 2010 and 2014, both games ended goalless while back in 2006 France were on the receiving end of penalty shootout heartbreak against Italy, in a Final remembered for Zinedine Zidane’s headbutt.
If you go back into 1998, then it was Zidane’s double that fired France to glory with a 3-0 win over Brazil, which is one of the highest scoring finals in recent times.
I’ve already pointed out how defensively strong France have been with the clean sheets kept and the fact they managed to silence Belgium’s frontline is testament to that.
Les Blues have restricted opportunities to their opponents and when they’ve arisen Hugo Lloris has pulled off some stunning saves.
In total, France conceded just 4.25xGA during this tournament, which is a staggeringly low figure and that averages out to 0.71xGA per game.
If they put in a solid performance at the back once more then this Croatian attack could be limited to scraps and forced to take them in order to remain competitive.
In the Croatia semi-final preview I wrote about how their opponents had been wasteful and keeper Danijel Subašić had gotten them out of their trouble because of their high xGA.
It has come to light that Subašić got something on Harry Kane’s attempt, which deflected it onto the post stopping England from doubling their lead. It’s moments like that which could turn a game of this magnitude.
In that victory, they put in a good attacking display in the second-half once getting to grips with the England formation.
The game ended with Croatia creating 2.12xGF whilst restricting England to 0.73xGF.
They won’t face the challenge of wing-backs in this game though with Deschamps more for a flat back four, so Dalic will know how to get the best out of his side from the start.
The likes of Luka Modrić, Ivan Perišić, Mario Mandžukić and Ante Rebic will have to be creative to cut open this stingy French defence while they’ll have to be clinical if something does crop up.
Everything in expected goals terms has pointed to Croatia’s defence overachieving and with Kylian Mbappe performing to high levels alongside Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud then it’s hard to get past a France win.
The man who blew the first whistle at the World Cup will also blow the last.
Nestor Pitana has already taken charge of both sides during his previous four games at the competition.
He oversaw Croatia’s win against Denmark on penalties when showing just one yellow card in extra-time while he showed four as France saw off Uruguay.
The former actor is a no-nonsense official and one the players won’t look to mess with given his strong over exuberant gesturing.
He’s a hard one to judge for cards. In the normal time of his four games so far, he’s shown 11 cards, an average of 2.75 per game, however, I don’t see this being physical to earn cards, more of gamesmanship towards the end of the game.
We saw in the first-half of Croatia’s semi-final that they struggled to cope with pace and directness.
Raheem Sterling had the running of both Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida and at times the two centre-backs just resorted to fouls to stop the attacks.
Up against Mbappe in this game could prove them some problems because of his speed and his intricate passing.
While they won’t mind the long balls forward to pick out Giroud, they’ll hate being left one-on-one against Mbappe or Griezmann, so look at the Croatian centre-backs to be carded.
Lovren (11/4) and Vida (7/2) both look big prices in that market and the former was very lucky to escape without a caution against England.
Mbappe (9/4 anytime) is well worth taking too. He’s got three goals to his name, will drift in-field, has the pace and skill to worry the defence and if he performs to another high standard then is a leading candidate to claim the Golden Ball award.
With plenty at stake plus Deschamps pragmatic approach during this tournament then Under 1.5 Goals (11/8) could be worth a look but could go out the window if one side leaves them exposed to the counter-attack as they chase the game.
The bet for me does surround a France win in 90 minutes and they’ll do it in the only way they know how – keeping it tight at the back and producing a moment of quality in front of goal to win it, whether it be from open play or a set-piece, just like how they defeated Belgium.
You wouldn’t be surprised if France won this 1-0 but given the players they have on the break then they could score a second late on to kill any Croatian hope.
With Mbappe and Griezmann likely to enjoy playing up against this defence then back a low-scoring French success.
France to Win & Under 2.5 Goals (23/10 – Ladbrokes/Coral – 0.5pt)