France won their 2nd FIFA World Cup in their history of the game, their first in 1998. Their last appearance in the FIFA World Cup was back in 2006 as the host nation, only to lose to Italy 5-3 on penalties. Their historic 2nd win against Croatia ended with a 4-2 win. France had, for the most part, a tough game against underdog Croatia. Croatia battled through a difficult group stage (Argentina, Nigeria, and Iceland) to then go through two games ending in penalties and a semifinal game against England ending in Extra Time. As exhausted as the Croatians’ legs were, they managed to keep up with the French team. One announcer even said these Croatian players could compete in the Tour De France, highlighting their elite physicality. Of course, it wouldn’t be a major sporting event without a little drama. Despite a Russian rock band charging the field during the match, a Croatian own goal and a hand ball call leading to a penalty kick gave up two goals to France in the first half.
After Croatia scored a goal in the first half and then another in the 69th minute, it was too little too late as France scored two more goals in the second half at the hands of French players Paul Pogba and “Golden Boy” 19 year old Kylian Mbappé. In what was considered the most exciting FIFA World Cup history due to early exits of powerhouse favorites Argentina, Brazil, Germany, and Spain, the underdogs that made it through surprised many fans, even ‘experts’. Although France won, Croatia didn’t walk away completely empty handed. Croatia’s Luka Modrić won the Golden Ball exemplifying the best overall player in the tournament. Belgium’s Eden Hazard was awarded the Silver Ball as runner-up, and Antoine Griezmann was given the Bronze Ball. England’s Harry Kane won the Golden Boot finishing with most goals in the tournament (6). France’s Mbappé, was awarded Best Young Player. If the year’s tournament gives any indication on how the next World Cup should be in 2022 in the next host nation Qatar, it should be quite an interesting one. For now, teams will look to their next tournaments, that including the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
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