Will it be a repeat of 1998 or will a new country have a star to add to their jersey? We will have to wait and see as France play Croatia on Sunday in the historic final of the 2018 World Cup.
The football world is on the verge of World Cup history as for the first time ever neither of the two teams which have reached the final match of the greatest football show, have won the tournament in the first century of the third millennium.
After 62 matches, the group stages, round of 16, quarterfinals and semifinals two games remain but both France and Croatia deserve their spots in the final match of the competition.
Whether you like it or not World Cup Russia 2018 will definitely go down as one of the most unforgettable tournaments the world has ever seen.
From start to present football enthusiasts have been treated to top quality football from all teams that were represented at this year’s finals.
We have seen 161 goals, 213 yellow cards, four red cards and 47 902 passes completed and the best could be yet to come as we wait on the last roll of the dice.
The impressive Frenchmen were the first to book their spot into the final after a second-half header compliments Samuel Umtiti gave them the 1-0 win over a Belgium side which sent the pre-tournament favourites Brazil packing last week Friday.
France had reached the last four stage with an easy 2-0 victory over an Uruguay team that looked clueless without the likes of Edinson Cavani who suffered a hamstring injury in their round of 16 victory over Portugal and was unable to feature.
Cavani’s striking partner in Luis Suarez was isolated thanks to a firm France backline and wasn’t allowed a lot of time and space on the ball as in previous matches while Raphael Varane and Antoine Griezmann got the all-important goals for Didier Deschamps’ men.
Croatia on the other hand against all odds staged the latest in a number of upsets during this World Cup. Croatia first had to get past a stubborn Russia side which simply weren’t prepared to exit as hosts without a fight.
They came from a goal behind yesterday to end England’s dream of a first World Cup trophy since 1966.
Kieron Tripper produced an absolute beauty of a free kick inside five minutes when Luka Modric fouled Tottenham’s midfielder Dele Alli in a teasing position and England looked well on their way to bringing “football home” but it wasn’t to be.
England lost momentum after the break and were punished when Ivan Perisic stole in ahead of Kyle Walker for an athletic finish.
Croatia with captain Luka Modric at the center of all things good and pulling the strings took control as England faded, with Perisic hitting the post and Jordan Pickford saving magnificently from Mario Mandzukic, before he broke English hearts scoring the match-winning goal with 11 minutes left in extra time.
The 32-year-old reacted quicker than John Stones in the area to beat Pickford and send Croatia to a first ever World Cup final as England clearly had nothing left in the tank.The final match-up really tells the story of the 2018 tournament and is poised to have the fitting fairy tale ending.
In what is arguably one of the most unpredictable World Cups ever, on paper France will definitely have the edge based on quality and depth in their squad.
They have been impressive from ball number one with the likes of Kylian Mbappe who has been a joy to watch, Griezmann, Paul Pogba and Oliver Giroud.
Apart from the attack options upfront, the French team which has only won the World Cup once has a pretty solid back line that has only conceded four goals.
I was told that for any team to win a major tournament they must succeed at winning at least one penalty shoot-out.
Croatia have already won two against Denmark and Russia while France are yet to kick penalties in this competition.
Croatia have shown they have the character and fight to play after conceding the game’s first goal which is also another strange element to France who haven’t trailed as yet.
They will look towards Modric, Mandzukic, Ivan Rakitic and Perisic to put the ball in the back of the net. They have all played well in the tournament.
Sometimes I think these things are written and it may be France’s World Cup to lose, one goal could decide it but based on the trend of strange events so far Croatia may very well win it.
But let’s not forget that England and Belgium will battle it out for third place on Saturday.
Predictions: Belguim 1-2 England, France 1-1 Croatia
(France win 4-3 on penalties)
Anmar Goodridge-Boyce is a 19-year-old sports journalist, IOC young reporter, football commentator with an associate degree in Mass Communication.