World Cup Final: who makes it?

Submitted by Eye of the Tiger on July 9th, 2018 at 12:46 PM

A couple interesting matches in Belgium-France and England-Croatia. Who do you think makes the final?

After beating Brazil, a lot of people have Belgium winning it all--and they certainly could. But if all the teams left, France arguably have the most (and most evenly distributed) talent. Plus they've been winning without even really clicking. I suspect they start to click now and win 2-1. 

Similarly, the fact that England have made it this far (for the first time since 2006) and the lack of traditional powerhouses left in the tournament (save France), has their fans thinking about a first World Cup since 1966 for the country that invented the game.* But I just can't shake the feeling that this team isn't really all that great. Croatia, on the other hand, have the Cup's best midfield pair in Modric and Raketic. I think they play a possession game and slice up England's defense, 1-0. 

So my pick is France vs. Croatia.

I then have France winning the final. Occasionally in the European Championships you get a winner that's not all that good but just get on a hot streak (e.g. Denmark in 1992, Greece in 2004), but World Cup winners tend to be the team with the most (and most evenly distributed) talent. Final score: 2-0. 

Who do you have and why? 

*Scotland also claim to have invented the game.   




July 9th, 2018 at 12:54 PM ^

I got to go with France vs England, but obviously wouldn't surprise me if it's vice-versa.  Belgium can match up with France talent-wise but I'll see Mbappe has a big game.  England could easily be England and choke, but I just think they have too much fire-power and Sterling has a big game.  Can't wait  - should be two great match-ups. 


July 9th, 2018 at 12:57 PM ^

Hoping for a Group G final so that we can see the Belgium v England game that should have come in the group stage.

For France v Belgium, I think the Belgian defense is going to really struggle with France's attacking speed. Mbappe is carving slow CBs up right now and Belgium deploys 3 slow, tall CBs. They are all very good CBs so maybe they will have an answer. Roberto Martinez has done a good job of strategizing for the opponent's strength and then taking that strength away. I'm going to risk it and say Belgium wins 2-1 simply because I enjoy Belgium's style of play more than France. Wouldn't be surprised by either team's win.


I feel like other than Modric and Rakitic, Croatia lack real standout players in attack and defense. Obviously having the most complete CM pairing in the tournament matters a ton. I just think that England may have more momentum on their side. Similar to Belgium, I also like their style of play more. I wouldn't be surprised to see Croatia win, but I'll be rooting for England. I'll say a 2 - 2 draw in FT play with a win in a shootout 4 - 3.


July 9th, 2018 at 1:00 PM ^

I like Croatia over England, although having Harry Kane is a big boost for the three lions. I would take the winner of France/Belgium as the overall winner, and I think that will be France.


July 9th, 2018 at 1:01 PM ^

Hope: Belgium vs. Croatia with Belgium winning

Prediction: France vs. Croatia with France winning

England's run reminds me of Michigan's run to the championship game this year. They've played relatively weak competition and had a lot of ugly victories. Major difference is that, unlike Michigan, England is not fun to watch and I don't like them.

Yost Ghost

July 9th, 2018 at 2:34 PM ^

Croatia had a weak group in Group D, which included wildly overrated Argentina. England had a shaky win over their first World Cup opponent Tunisia but they laid a beat down on Panama and then in a tactical move they benched key players for their meaningless match with Belgium in their final group match. The result has been a much easier road to the finals than what Belgium has had to endure. 

France is good but I don't think they have enough talent to deal with Belgium. England is most likely licking their chops that they get a gassed Croatia team that looks very beatable.

I predict a Belgium vs. England World Cup Final. 


July 9th, 2018 at 4:41 PM ^

Argentina may not truly be the 5th best team in the world (as they are in Fifa rankings), but Group D was by no means a weak group.

I spoke too strongly in saying that England has only ugly wins. They've beat who is in front of them (except for Belgium). I just think that Croatia (even though they're gassed) is much better than anyone else they've faced so far.

Yost Ghost

July 10th, 2018 at 9:38 AM ^

As gifted as Neymar is and fund to watch know...he actually plays...I feel he ruins it with his shenanigans. 

A Swiss TV station was tracking how much time Neymar spent on the ground in the 2018 World Cup and it was up to 14 minutes prior to their last match against Belgium. 


July 9th, 2018 at 1:42 PM ^

I partly agree with your analysis, at least as far as England's relatively easy path. Like Michigan, the path features a lot of winnable games (Croatia, dog-tired and depleted, seems to fall in line with this should they advance). Like Michigan, they aren't good in every phase of the game. Like Michigan, they have found one particular calling card (Michigan: defense. England: Set pieces) that is winning them games. 

I don't know if that's ugly, though. And I like them, so there's that.


July 9th, 2018 at 1:05 PM ^

Living in Geneva... I would rather see Croatia v. Belgium in the final, however, I am pretty sure it will be England v. France.  English and French fans are intolerable here...


July 9th, 2018 at 1:12 PM ^

Can't help but think England's talent and 2 straight shootouts will be too much for Croatia, so going with England.

My head says France, but my heart wants Belgium, and I'm going with my heart.

Final is Belgium over England 3-2.  Lukaku and Hazard combine for a late goal as 3 Lions fans the world over cause a sonic boom with their combined screams of "Noooooo"


July 9th, 2018 at 2:56 PM ^

I think Croatia have the clear advantage in midfield, and depending on how severe their GK's injury is, possibly in goal. England has the advantage everywhere else.  Combine that with the physical and emotional toll of Croatia's shootouts (remember England rested a lot of players in their last group game), I think England takes it.  


July 9th, 2018 at 3:04 PM ^

France-Belgium is pretty even except Mbappe has made defenders look foolish, and I think he will do the same or worse against Kompany and company(sorry for that) ... also can't help but think Belgium gets caught pressing too hard and gives France numbers on the attack

Yost Ghost

July 10th, 2018 at 9:48 AM ^

Here's a ranking that seems pretty legit:

Interesting tidbit Belgium has 8 players on the list of the top 100 which is pretty respectable but France has 12!

What I find interesting/credible about this list is that it was created by a panel of 169 experts from 63 countries.


July 9th, 2018 at 1:14 PM ^

I’ll go with Belgium England for the final.  Croatia has looked great against a way overrated Argentina team but has looked very beatable in the other games, while England just played their best game against the Swedes and I think England is just a better team.  France and Belgium have the same problems in defense but I like courtois over lloris any day of the week.   I think both have great attacks but I think Belgium have 2 of the worlds top ten players in KDB and Hazard who can win games by themselves.  While I like mbappe and france’s attacking options, I don’t know if it’ll be as effective as belgiums.   If Martinez plays balls to the wall with a 3-4-3, it could be a wide open game.  Gotta go with belgiummto win it all


July 9th, 2018 at 1:35 PM ^

That'd be pretty impressive if we all that offensive talent both teams were held scoreless after '90 but I guess probably the same said the same in 2014 before Argentina and Germany faced off and that happened.  But both teams (weird to say this about England for once) also have a solid defense.  I couldn't help but chuckle if England gets to the final and it goes into PKs....I wouldn't be able to watch if I were from England.  


July 9th, 2018 at 1:33 PM ^

Prediction: France vs. Croatia


I'd like to see England win (I guess...), Germany is my team but I guess I have to fall back to England, based on heritage. France has looked like the best team to my untrained eye so far, so if I had to put money on it, I'd be picking those white flag flyers. 

Ron Utah

July 9th, 2018 at 1:33 PM ^

Belgium vs. Croatia

Belgium is the team I'm rooting for, and, I believe the most talented team remaining.  France is very good but young.  I'd expect the winner of that game to win the tournament.

England/Croatia is a toss-up game, but I believe Croatia has more quality, while England have more momentum and energy.

Worth noting that I believe Martinez and Dalic have been the best managers this WC.

I Bleed Maize N Blue

July 9th, 2018 at 1:38 PM ^

Hoping for England over Belgium, but I'd be OK if Belgium won.

Does Croatia have anything left? They've played a lot of soccer. Their goalie had a hamstring issue - will he be able to go? If he plays, will it be an issue again? I was amazed that he lasted till they won in a shootout.


July 9th, 2018 at 1:47 PM ^

My guess is Croatia & France... though I would really prefer to see Belgium vs. England.

I think it would would be a really fun matchup, plus it would be fun to see England go bonkers with a WC win, and I wouldn't feel bad about Belgium taking it home either.