Croatia joined France in the 2018 FIFA World Cup final by beating England 2-1 after extra time in Moscow on Wednesday. Even the average soccer fan knows just how stacked France is, but Croatia is a team that also has its fair share of superstars who have helped carry this team.
European teams have dominated this World Cup – an all-European final was assured when the final four teams ended up being Belgium, France, England, and Croatia. Even the quarter-finals were decidedly western, with only two teams (Uruguay and Brazil) competing against a field of Europeans. Out of the last eight World Cups, only two have been won by non-Euro teams – and both times it was perennial favorites Brazil who took the trophy home.
Even with this trend it’s surprising to see underdogs Croatia make their way to the final. Their population numbers only 4.2m – the smallest country to play in a World Cup final since Uruguay in 1950. They’ve endured a tough run to the final, needing penalties to get past Denmark and Russia before having to come from a goal behind to beat England in extra time. In contrast France have pretty much cruised their way to the final stages. They beat Argentina 4-3 in the last 16 in a classic encounter, eased past Uruguay with a 2-0 success in the quarter-finals, and then claimed a controlled 1-0 victory over dark horses Belgium. Their squad boasts a midfield with big names like Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante and Blaise Matuidi – more than enough firepower to chase down and trap even Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitić. All in all it should be an absolutely massive match for any neutral to watch. We’ll be seeing history in the making.