World Cup Recap: Final

Millennials win second World Cup title for France

Paul Pogba celebrates France's World Cup win. Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

The final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup took place on Sunday. France were looking to secure a second World title after being winners at France 1998 while gutsy Croatia were looking to lift their first title.

France 4-2 Croatia

Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
Attendance: 78,011

From the streets in Paris and Croatia to watch parties in the rest of the world, eyeballs of soccer enthusiasts were focused on the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Both teams were proactive from the opening minutes. France had a bit of a rough spell trying to control the ball while Croatia picked up right were they left off against Belgium.

Unfortunately, this World Cup has been about the unexpected and a 17th minute foul on Antoine Griezmann would change everything. Griezmann lined up to take the ensuing free kick and, with an unlucky scrape off Croatia’s Mario Mandzukic later, the ball found its way to the back of the net. Croatia’s warrior spirit would not be denied as Ivan Perisic would finish off a beautiful combination to smash home the tying goal in the 28th minute. With the game at a deadlock, the first ever VAR penalty call in a World Cup final would happen after a Croatia handball in the 34th minute. Griezmann converted his attempt to regain the lead for the French. The half ended 2-1 France.

Croatia did their best to come out aggressive out of the locker room. French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris made a crucial save in the 48th minute before Paul Pogba extended the lead for the French in the 59th minute. With his strike, Pogba became the first Manchester United player to score in a World Cup final. Mbappe would add a sweet strike of his own in the 65th minute to really put the result out of reach. Croatia would not quit, however, and Mandzukic would pull one back in the 69th minute. Ultimately, Croatia were short of another comeback as France won 4-2.

France tastes victory twenty years after their last title

Many times in sports we get stacked teams who fall short of expectations. Not this France team. The Manager Didier Deschamps - who was part of France’s 1998 championship team - did a tremendous job of man-managing the talent on his squad and helped them grow throughout the tournament. France was able to get over the disappointment of losing in the final of Euro 2016 (which was on home soil) and turn that into a richer prize in the World Cup title. What is as impressive as their talented team is the list of names that didn’t make it to this 23-man roster. France is once again a force to be reckoned with and maybe one that could match Spain’s three major title run from 2008-2012. Only time will tell but, for now, this cup is the accomplishment by which many of these players’ legacy will be based on.

Croatia fights valiantly to finish as runner-up

Croatia fans are heartbroken not just by the loss but because their nation many never make it this far in the World Cup, at least probably not in their lifetime. Even so, just getting to the final is an accomplishment and Croatia have won the hearts of soccer fans worldwide. To take advantage of this generation, Croatia will look to make a strong run at Euro 2020. Modric had a great year, both at Real Madrid and Croatia, and the same can be said of Rakitic with Barcelona. The one thing Croatia always lacked was a more lethal goalscorer and a more blessed goalkeeper. If they can find that in their youth ranks, maybe Croatia can repair their wounds with a European Championship in two years.

Notable stat: Kylian Mbappe is the second teenager to score in a World Cup final, the first being Pele at Sweden 1958.

Programming notes:

Soccer Matters with Glenn Davis will be broadcasting on ESPN 97.5 FM from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Monday. World Cup broadcaster Glenn Davis will be breaking down the final and take listener phone calls.

2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™ Awards

Golden Ball (Best Player) - Luka Modrić (Croatia)

Silver Ball - Eden Hazard (Belgium)

Bronze Ball - Antoine Griezmann (France)

Golden Boot (Top Scorer) - Harry Kane (England), 6 goals

Silver Boot - Antoine Griezmann (France), 4 goals

Bronze Boot - Romelu Lukaku (Belgium), 4 goals

Golden Glove (Best Goalkeeper) - Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)

Young Player - Kylian Mbappé (France)

Fair Play (Team With Less Fouls) - Spain

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