Forget a prediction: This is how both teams can influence the outcome of the 2018 World Cup Final.
The 2018 World Cup has been erratic for bookkeepers who probably thought even the most lopsided victories would be low-scoring affairs. Then again, I'm in no way concerned how much money was lost or gained off the backs of World Futbol. Sunday's final pits a known soccer powerhouse against a Nation serving up quite possibly its most talented roster in history. France vs. Croatia has the makings of psychological warfare, don't be deceived by their standing profile.
A France Victory
France will likely try to assert the pace of the match. If they do, and retain possession on the break, France could very well win the tournament in stunning fashion. Their current talisman Kylian Mbappé is simply unstoppable inside the opponent's half. When the fullbacks push up, namely Benjamin Pavard, it's as if a Tetris wall is being enclosed. If holding midfielder N'Golo Kanté is allowed to be his regular self, and I reckon he will, look for France's outfield players to let their guard down just a little. If so it could prove advantageous for the flat footed Croatian defenders, but also disastrous if they lose their focus.
A Croatian Victory
Speaking of focus, the Croatian have a host of characters known handling pressure on the job. Mario Mandzukic has made a career out of winning decisive aerial battles, and for scoring goals on the big stage, his overhead kick against Real Madrid in the Champions League a prime example. Of course, Croatia needs to generate scoring chances for players like Mandzukic to maximize their utility.
France will likely enter the game very focused. But if Croatia were to up their "robust" playing style and get a little physical, there lies a possibility France could lose their composure, and hence forego their game plan. Playing with emotion always runs you the risk of getting into foul trouble. Croatia has a few creative midfielders to their credit, namely Ivan Rakitic. But if they are to beat France they'll need to upend France's relentless drive with their own brand of physicality.
Inevitably if both teams remain scoreless after stoppage time, the game becomes a bit of crapshoot. Tune in tomorrow at 11am Eastern Time for what promises to be an exhilarating matchup.