Ahead of the World Cup final between France and Croatia, which happens to be the 900th game in the tournament’s history, we compiled a list of key stats and figures that will be at play with the help of the ESPN Stats & Information Group.
1. Deschamps could join elite trio
France manager Didier Deschamps has his country on the brink of a second World Cup title, and the 49-year-old will also have fond memories of the first one Les Bleus won. Deschamps was the captain of the France team that beat Brazil in the 1998 final, and if his team tops Croatia in Moscow on Sunday, he’ll join Germany’s Franz Beckenbauer and Brazil’s Mario Zagallo as the only men to both play for and manage their country to a World Cup title.
2. History mixed for Croatia
Sunday’s match won’t be the first time a team making its finals debut takes on a team that has already won world football’s biggest prize. Croatia will become the sixth team to enter a final under these conditions, with two — England and France — having beaten a previous champion the first time they reached a final.
3. World Cup by the numbers
There were as many wins as losses at the World Cup, unbelievable goals — with Belgium leading the way — and plenty of extra-time and penalty drama (thanks, Croatia) … and cards, lots and lots of cards.
4. France still not Europe’s top power
Deschamps’ team is loaded with talent for the final — his squad boasts some of the top players in the world and is well-represented throughout Europe’s top leagues — but they still aren’t the continent’s best when it comes to reaching major tournament finals, trailing both Germany, with 14, and Italy, with nine. France, with all their stars, have reached just six, which includes the final Sunday.
5. Champions League-World Cup double
Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic and Raphael Varane have the chance to do something Sunday only 10 players have done in the history of the game: win the Champions League and the World Cup in the same year. If Croatia win, Modric and Kovacic would become the 11th and 12th players to do so, while Varane would be the 11th such player if France take home the trophy.
6. Can Croatia carry on the ’20-year streak’
Zlatko Dalic’s team are clear underdogs going into the final with France, but they can take some definite encouragement from this little nugget: Since 1958, there’s been a first-time World Cup winner every 20 years. And yes, that includes France’s first and only in 1998.
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