WC ’18: France and Croatia

These are two very good teams with numerous very good players.  And, bottomline, on paper, France will be too much for Croatia.  With this said, soccer games are played on the field, not on paper.  Six things to watch for in Sunday’s game:

  1. Two really good goalies
  2. France’s two defensive midfielders, Pogba and Kante, vs. Croatia’s two offensive midfielders, Rakitic and Modric.  Arguably, the best offensive midfield pair vs. the best defensive midfield pair.
  3. Croatia’s Strinic is a solid left back and has held this position for club and national team for numerous years. But Mbappe running at him repeatedly will be a very real test.
  4. France’s Giroud isn’t scoring goals but he’s doing a good job of setting up his midfielders.  Watch for him to set up Griezmann, Matuidi, and others.
  5. After the World Cup Semifinal game and Liverpool’s Champion’s League Final, Croatia’s Lovren was singing his own praises a little too loudly.  While working with Vida in the defensive middle of the field, this may not end well.
  6. Though infrequently punished for this, France’s defense has been vulnerable.  Watch for Umtiti, Varane, and others to make mistakes and for Mandsukic, Peresic, and others to capitalize on this.

France
Goalie
Lloris (Tottenham Hotspurs) – Captain of both club and national team
Defense
Right Back – Pavard (VfB Stuttgart)
Center Back – Umtiti (Barcelona)
Center Back – Varane (Real Madrid)
Left Back – Hernandez (Atletico Madrid)
Midfield
Right Mid/Forward – Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain) – 19 years old and one of the best players in the world
Center Mid/Defensive – Kante (Chelsea) – 2017 Premiere League Player of the Year
Center Mid – Pogba (Manchester United) – Great player
Center Mid/Forward – Griezmann (Atletico Madrid) – Player of the Tournament at Euro 2016
Left Mid – Matuidi (Juventus)
Forward
Giroud (Chelsea)

Croatia
Goalie
Subasic (AS Monaco, Goalkeeper of the Year in France)
Defense
Right Back – Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid)
Center Back – Lovren (Liverpool)
Center Back – Vida (Dynamo Kiev and moved to Basiktas in Turkey)
Left Back – Strinic (Sampdoria and just moved to AC Milan)
Midfield
Right Mid/Forward – Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Center Mid – Rakitic (Barcelona) – Great player
Center Mid – Modric (Real Madrid) –  Arguably the best midfielder and player in the world
Center Mid/Defensive – Brozovic (Inter)
or
Center Mid/Forward – Kramaric (1899 Hoffenheim)
Left Mid/Forward – Perisic (Inter Milan)
Forward
Mandsukic (Juventus) – Legitimate Goalscorer


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