After 63 games and an exiting tournament full of surprises it comes down to France and Croatia to decide the winner of the FIFA World Cup 2018.
France’s road to the final saw them comfortably qualify through Group C before they saw off Argentina (4-3) in a thriller, and then Uruguay (2-0) in the quarters.
They emerged victorious from a tough semi against Belgium (1-0), harnessing their flair to grind out the win thanks in part to the superb Hugo Lloris in goal. That win against Belgium marked their tenth game unbeaten overall (W8, D2).
This will be France’s second consecutive major final after they lost to Portugal in the final of Euro 2016, and their third World Cup final appearance – winning once in 1998 when coach Didier Deschamps was captain.
Deschamps could become only the third man after Brazilian Mario Zagallo and Germany's Franz Beckenbauer to win the WC as both a player and coach.
After easily qualifying through Group D, including a 3-0 demolition of Argentina, Croatia’s path to the final has been much more fraught.
Whilst they saw off England 2-1 in the semi with an extra-time goal by Mario Mandzukic, their previous two knockout games (Russia, Denmark) both ended in penalty shootout wins.
Quite how much those three extra-time wins have taken out of Croatia will be seen on the deciding day, but the relatively small Balkan state won’t lack for passion as they play their first major final ever and attempt to become the second smallest nation to win the WC after Uruguay.
Players to watch
Luka Modric (two goals) is the man who makes Croatia tick. If he can escape the shackles of N'Golo Kante and co in the midfield, then Croatia might be in with a chance.
Stat attack: France haven’t lost to Croatia in their five meetings (W3, D2), including victory in the 1998 semi. While. France haven’t been behind at half-time at these finals.
Prior to the third-place game, 43.48% (70/161) of the goals at this World Cup have come from set pieces.
France have plenty of attacking talent at their helm, but coach Deschamps has shown time and time again that he is more comfortable setting up his playing XI with a cautious mindset and for that reason Croatia may well enjoy more possession in Moscow on Sunday, but expect the fresher and younger French legs to dictate the game as it nears it completion time.
Whatever the result might be, it has been arguably the best World Cup since a long time and at the final step ‘may the best team win’.