France v Croatia: Fifa World Cup 2018 final combined line-up prediction
With several world-class stars on each team, it’s no easy feat picking a combined starting 11 ahead of the Russia 2018 final – see which big names miss out
There will be plenty of stars on show when France take on Croatia in 2018 World Cup final at the Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday.
Although England and Belgium might feel otherwise, few can complain that best sides went through from the semi-finals in Russia.
For France it is a chance for redemption after their Euro 2016 final heartbreak on home soil, while first-time finalists Croatia have been threatening to shock the world for a while with their very own golden generation.
But who would you pick if you had to choose a starting 11 from both sides? Here’s who makes the South China Morning Post’s combined team (formation: 4-3-3).
Not that Daniel Subasic has had a bad tournament for Croatia, but Hugo Lloris has just been on a different level.
Monaco goalkeeper Subasic, 33, has failed to keep a clean sheet in the knockout stages whereas Lloris hasn’t conceded since the round of 16.
The Tottenham goalkeeper, 31, is at the peak of his powers and can be unbeatable on his day.
Right back: Benjamin Pavard is a lock. The Stuttgart man, 22, has caught the eye with some terrific displays including a stunning goal against Argentina and is likely to seal a big move in the summer.
Centre back: Raphael Varane would be the first name on this combined team sheet. He’s been a an immovable object at the heart of France’s defence with four clean sheets, and provides a serious goal threat from set pieces, as we saw against Uruguay.
Centre back: Samuel Umtiti has also been a rock at the back for France, and like Varane he also carries a goal threat – the Barcelona man’s goal was the difference in the semi-final against Belgium. Slightly unfair on Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida to miss out, given their strong displays at centre back for Croatia, but they’ve had their shaky moments.
Left back: Ivan Strinic has barely put a foot wrong for Croatia but Lucas Hernandez gets the edge. Atletico Madrid’s 22-year-old has played his part in making France rock solid at the back and frightening going forward.
Defensive midfield: N’Golo Kante has gone about doing his usual thing at Russia 2018, playing a crucial role in winning back possession for France and providing defensive solidity in the midfield. Perhaps the best player in the world in his position.
Attacking midfield: Luka Modric was the star of the show against England in many eyes, despite Ivan Perisic and Mario Mandzukic scoring the goals. The Real Madrid midfielder keeps things ticking over to perfection for Croatia and has cemented his status as one of the game’s best.
Attacking midfield: Paul Pogba has impressed for France, but Didier Deschamps has shackled his natural attacking instincts, meaning Ivan Rakitic gets the nod here. The Barcelona star hasn’t been at his best but is a man for any big game.
Right forward: Kylian Mbappe has electrified the tournament at times, terrifying defences with his electric pace. A goal in the final would make his arrival on the international stage complete.
Centre forward: Mario Mandzukic showed just what he is capable in the semi-finals, bullying England’s defence and scoring the winner. Less prolific than in his Bayern Munich heyday but the 32-year-old still has a knack for chipping in with crucial goals.
Left forward: A toss-up with Ivan Perisic, but Antoine Griezmann just about gets the nod. The Atletico Madrid star has had a quietly commanding influence for France, providing goals and assists without being at his stellar best.
Players in combined team: France 8, Croatia 3