World Cup Final Props: Battle-Tested Croatia To Test France’s Nerves

Rainman M.

Thursday, July 12, 2018 12:49 PM UTC

Thursday, Jul. 12, 2018 12:49 PM UTC

France and Croatia play on Sunday at 11 a.m. ET in the World Cup Final. Take advantage of one final opportunity to cash in World Cup prop bets.

World Cup Final PropsFrance vs. Croatia (Sunday, 11 a.m. ET)

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France is a small favorite to become champion in regulation. On paper, France’s odds are fair because of the depth of the team's talent. Defensively, the French are led by Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane and Barcelona’s Samuel Umtiti. But goalkeeper Hugo Lloris has possibly been France’s most reliable man in the back and the best goalkeeper of the tournament. He seems to come through in every game with a potential save of the year, showing Uruguay and Belgium his reaction skills and ability to stretch himself out as much as possible. Consider laying -200 on Lloris to win the Golden Glove for best goalkeeper. With his side advancing to the final after clean sheets against Uruguay and Belgium, he has gained the decisive edge over his competition. France’s defense was the key to advancing against Belgium, winning 1-0 with only 40% of the possession.

Offensively, France has the players to execute the strategy against Croatia that England could not. Croatia’s back line is notoriously slow and England knew to take advantage, repeatedly sending its speeders deep. France is not a team that tends to sit back as it chose to do against a Belgian squad that is known for its lethal counter attack. I expect to see more of an inclination from France to possess and go forward that was evident in its 2-0 win against Uruguay. France has somebody who, like England’s Raheem Sterling, can challenge Croatia’s back line with his pace, but who has shown greater ability to finish or set up his opponents. Kylian Mbappe's best play against Belgium was likely a creative heel-flick that set up a teammate with an opportunity in front of goal. Mbappe has shown that no stage is too big for him and has three goals in six matches. You can bet on him to score at +200. Mbappe’s pace will help force Croatia deep, which will leave more room for France's midfield. Paul Pogba has shown spectacular form in the midfield with his shimmy move to get past opponents in space and his through-ball to set up teammates with goal opportunities. One player whom he could assist is striker Antoine Griezmann, who was off from distance against Belgium, but typically excels in the later stages of tournaments. He has three goals, partly because he is his team’s penalty taker. You can bet on him to score at +162.

Croatia is not afraid after falling behind. Conversely, France has been tested, but never had to hang on the ropes like Croatia. France cruised to multi-goal victories against Argentina and Uruguay, before settling for a 1-0 win against Belgium. On the other hand, Croatia had to come from behind against all three of its knockout opponents and gritted out victories against each one. On the world’s biggest stage, the ability to handle pressure is an important component to success. But Croatia isn’t even the side burdened by pressure. France, who choked away the 2016 Euro final on its own soil, is expected to throw that monkey off its back. If France goes up, Croatia will not only be in a situation that is quite familiar to it, but won’t be weighed down by French nerves. Croatia boasts arguably the best midfield in the world, led by Real Madrid’s Luca Modric and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic, creative talent on its wings in Inter Milan’s Ivan Perisic, and finishing prowess in striker Mario Mandzukic. With these options, Croatia’s best chance to score will come on the counter, especially in the expectation that France doesn’t sit deep as against Belgium. Mandzukic is Croatia’s top option to score at +350.

In expectation of a tight affair, the underdog spread is the way to go. Lay -118 with Draw or Croatia and both teams to score at +125. Also, +600 is a nice reward for predicting a 1-1 game, which is a valuable bet in the expectation that this game won’t see many goals because a low-scoring game limits the possible variations of results. Croatia's defense is led by the very physical and reliable Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida and the second-most favored Gold Glove winner Danijel Subasic. They didn’t allow a goal in the flow of offensive build-up against either Argentina or England and will keep France from running over them. France to score one goal is available at +160, Croatia at +150.

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