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Road to World Cup final: France look to revive glory, Croatia aim to script history

While France battled their way through heavyweights such as Argentina, Belgium, Croatia took it to extra time and penalties to settle the score to take them to the finals. 

Edited by: Brett Ellis, New Delhi [ Published on: July 14, 2018 21:05 IST ]
France face Croatia in the World Cup 2018 finals

France face Croatia in the World Cup 2018 finals

The Le Blues will aim to add another star on their jersey and aspire to leave with the all-glorious World Cup come Sunday. Croatia on the other hand, have been valiant, courageous and focused. Their eyes are on the prize. After bettering their previous best of 1998 semifinals, a rather dedicated Croatia will hope to give their all and bring home a prize never seen or clinched before.

France and Croatia started their paths to the World Cup final similarly, needing a little help from their foes and officials to get their first wins. Both have benefited from great goalkeeping along the way. And both racked up goals against Argentina to help send the two-time champions home. From there, the teams' routes to soccer's biggest stage diverged greatly.

France, which won its qualifying group to come into the tournament as a top-seeded team, fielded a ferocious defence and, when needed, a scintillating offence in securing all of its World Cup wins in regulation. Croatia eked into the field as one of the last European teams to qualify, then ripped through its group before surviving an unprecedented run of three straight extra-time matches.

Here's a look at how each team made it through the six games leading up to Sunday's final.

HOW FRANCE GOT HERE

GROUP STAGE

FRANCE 2-1 AUSTRALIA

India Tv - France beat Australia 2-1 in the group stage

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France beat Australia 2-1 in the group stage

Les Bleus need a penalty from Antoine Griezmann and a late own-goal to get by Australia, an underwhelming start in a group they are heavily favoured to win.

FRANCE 1-0 PERU

India Tv - France beat Peru 1-0 in the group stage match

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France beat Peru 1-0 in the group stage match

Kylian Mbappe's easy finish in the first half makes the 19-year-old striker the youngest ever to score for France at the World Cup and secures a spot in the knockout stage.

FRANCE 0-0 DENMARK

India Tv - France drew Denmark 0-0

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France drew Denmark 0-0

Both sides knock it around for 90 minutes knowing a draw means France wins the group and Denmark is second. It's the only goalless game of the tournament.

Round of 16; FRANCE 4-3 ARGENTINA

India Tv - France beat Argentina 4-3 in the round of 16 clash

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France beat Argentina 4-3 in the round of 16 clash

Mbappe dominates in a round-of-16 match that has the feel of a final as the teams trade the lead three times. The phenom scores twice and draws a penalty that Griezmann converts for a third, with a wonderful strike by Benjamin Pavard tucked in between.

Quarterfinals: FRANCE 2-0 URUGUAY

India Tv - France beat Uruguay in the quarters 2-0

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France beat Uruguay in the quarters 2-0

Griezmann sets up one goal and scores another on a Uruguay goalkeeping gaffe, refusing to celebrate it because of his close club and personal ties to the South Americans.

Semifinals: FRANCE 1-0 BELGIUM

India Tv - France beat Belgium 1-0 in the semifinals

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France beat Belgium 1-0 in the semifinals

Samuel Umtiti's header from a corner kick proves the difference as both goalkeepers stand out in a surprisingly defensive match between arguably the most talented teams in the tournament. As it did to Uruguay, France hands Belgium its only loss and returns to the final for the third time in the past six World Cups.

HOW CROATIA GOT HERE

Group D

CROATIA 2-0 NIGERIA

India Tv - Croatia defeated Nigeria 2-0 in the Group Stage

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Croatia defeated Nigeria 2-0 in the Group Stage

Like France in its first match, Croatia uses a penalty kick and an own-goal to grab the lead in a group many identified as among the toughest.

CROATIA 3-0 ARGENTINA 

India Tv - Croatia beat Argentina 3-0 in Group Stage

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Croatia beat Argentina 3-0 in Group Stage

The Croats show they are for real by stifling Lionel Messi and routing Argentina with three second-half goals.

CROATIA 2-1 ICELAND

India Tv - Croatia defeated Iceland 2-1 in the Group Stage

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Croatia defeated Iceland 2-1 in the Group Stage

Already qualified and facing an Iceland team that had to win, Croatia sends out a squad heavy with reserves and still earns its third victory with a 90th-minute goal from Ivan Perisic.

Round of 16: CROATIA 1-1 DENMARK  (Penalties)

India Tv - Croatia beat Denmark on penalties in round of 16

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Croatia beat Denmark on penalties in round of 16

A blazing start and an epic finish as Croatia gives up a goal in the first minute and answers in the fourth, then survives a historic goalkeeping duel in a shootout in which Danijel Subasic makes three saves to send his team through 3-2 on penalties.

Quarterfinals: CROATIA 2-2 RUSSIA (Penalties)

India Tv - Croatia beat Russia in the semis on penalties

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Croatia beat Russia in the semis on penalties

Another thriller as Croatia scores in extra time but surprise quarterfinalist Russia equalizes within minutes in front of a roaring crowd in Moscow's main stadium. An injured Subasic comes up with another save to help Croatia prevail 4-3 in the shootout.

Semifinals: CROATIA 2-1 ENGLAND

India Tv - Croatia beat England 2-1 at extra time in the semifinals

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Croatia beat England 2-1 at extra time in the semifinals

Playing two hours of soccer for the third time in 11 days, Croatia goes down a goal early but comes back to level with a fantastic finish by Perisic and wins it with a clinical strike from Mario Mandzukic in extra time. The Croats reach their first final in their fifth World Cup.

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Asia Cup Schedule 2018

Live Scorecard

ASIA CUP 2018 Points Table

Group A

  • Teams Matches Wins Losses Points NRR
  • Pakistan 1 1 0 2 0
  • India 0 0 0 0 0
  • Hong Kong 1 0 1 0 0

Group B

  • Teams Matches Wins Losses Points NRR
  • Bangladesh 1 1 0 2 0
  • Afghanistan 1 1 0 2 0
  • Sri Lanka 2 0 2 0 0