Gary Linekar, former English striker once said, ” Football is a simple game. Twenty-two men chase a ball for 90 minutes and in the end, the Germans always win”. German football team, lives on the principle of stoicism and measure. No wonder, historically, Germany has been called Das Land der Dichter und Denker (the country of poets and thinkers)… The Germans are back home now. So does all the South Americans. Who is left now ?
Everyone wished and predicted France in the finals. No doubt, France has everything. Talented players, high FIFA rating, world cup winning player managing the team for 8 years, high number of migrants in the team, 100 mio worth Pogba. The defining force of the 2018 World Cup has been France’s defense. They’ve conceded 4 goals in the entire tournament. ( 3 from Argentina)
But why Croatia wasn’t predicted ? Because, it doesnt have any striker paying in EPL or La Liga ?
Road to finals : Croatia was trailing in for consecutive 3 games against their opponents( Denmark, Russia & England) & came back to play extra time. Last 3 games reached extra time to pens. That makes Croatia the first team in World Cup history to win three consecutive elimination games in extra time or beyond. Their nerves had been tested. Endurance enriched. How on Earth can a country with population of merely four million people be playing in football’s biggest game? How can Croatia keep producing world-class footballers?”
Well, one thing has certainly worked in our favour: genetics. Dejan Lovren joked, “Our mothers and fathers must have been great at making love!”. But there is something in that. Many members of the Croatia squad excelled in other fields. Sport was clearly in their blood. If you have ever seen Ivan Perisic play volleyball or basketball, you will know what am I talking about: pure talent.( Source – Goal.com)
To me the key is Pogba/Kante/Matuidi Vs Modric/Rakitic : Midfield : The key matchup in midfield between Pogba/Kanté and Modric/Rakitic will go for France. They’ve been outstanding the entire competition and are just too strong. Physically, Pogba and Modric are very different. The Frenchman – tall, young, photogenic; the Croat – short, 32 (getting on a bit in football terms), a bit gawky looking. But both are key players for their teams and have been vital in getting this far.
Below is a beautiful visualization from statsbomb :
Luka Modric is a deep lying playmaker.
A deep lying playmaker is a holding midfielder who uses his intellect to break up play, his accurate passing to control the game and his vision to start attacks or occasionally send in that killer pass. Luka Modric is incapable of playing well in attacking positions. But he is capable of taking on the role of defensive midfield and deep lying playmaker.
Paul Pogba is an incisive roving midfielder
A box to box midfielder is a type of midfielder who is equally capable of defensive midfield and attacking midfield. But deploying him in either a defensive midfield or attacking midfield position deprives him of some of his abilities. This type of midfielder is best suited to a free role.
Paul Pogba is very technically skilled, very strongly built and has amazing stamina. He uses those, to roam around the pitch and break up play or attack. Paul Pogba can’t play well if deployed in a holding midfield role or attacking midfield role but he is flawless if given the freedom to run around the pitch at will.
The longer the game gets, the more Croatia will gain confidence. With such a high pressure political game, which team will be themselves, France or Croatia ? As wise men say ‘ An ugly duckling can be a beautiful swan, if it fits the right pond‘ ; will Croatia be the ugly duck with FIFA finals, Russia, being their pond ?