Sunday 15th July 2018

Event of the Day: Final of the FIFA World Cup

Our event of the day is the FIFA World Cup final between France and Croatia at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. After a month of upsets, penalty shootouts and VAR, the biggest prize in world football boils down to an all European affair. France, much fancied from the start, unimpressively got through the group stages before comfortably navigating a testing route to the final. Croatia, considered dark horses at best, blitzed through the group stages before making difficult work of an arguably more straight forward draw in the knockout rounds. Despite finishing top of Group C, the French performances didn’t win many plaudits. Their dull draw against Denmark remains the only stalemate of the tournament. However, they encountered few problems in what should have been a challenging path to the final. Les Bleus fired four past Lionel Messi’s Argentina, before a 2-0 victory against a Uruguay side with a 100% record up to that point. The seemingly unbeatable Belgian’s were beaten 1-0 in a sturdy semi-final performance. N’Golo Kante’s boundless energy and Paul Pogba’s sheer athleticism makes the French midfield a formidable force. Upfront, Kylian Mbappé’s electric pace is frightening, and in Antoine Griezmann they are always a goal threat. Perhaps the best is still to come from this French side... Can they turn on the style to reclaim the title they last lifted in 1998? 

Croatia made the world sit up and take notice when they swept aside Argentina. This 3-0 victory set them on their way to three wins out of three in the group stages. However, they have needed two penalty shootouts and extra time to overcome Denmark, Russia and England in the knockout stages. Talismanic Luca Modrić is many people’s favourite to win the Golden Ball. His exquisite passing, touch and vision have been at the heart of everything Croatia do. In Mario Mandžukić and Ivan Rakitić, who will play his 71st game of the season today, they possess a serious threat going forward. Croatia have defied pundits throughout the tournament. Can they do so again to win the first World Cup in their country’s history? An epic battle awaits as one of the sporting highlights of the year reaches its climax.

Honourable mentions around the globe go to the final day of Wimbledon fortnight at the All England Club. It’s the final of the men’s singles, with twelve-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic taking on big serving South African Kevin Anderson, looking for his maiden Grand Slam title. Finals in the mixed doubles, men’s wheelchair singles and women’s wheelchair doubles are also on display. Elsewhere in the UK, Day 2 of the Athletics World Cup gets underway at the London Stadium. There are two Natwest T20 Blast fixtures, with Worcestershire facing Yorkshire at the County Ground and Birmingham playing Durham at Edgbaston. It’s Day 4 of a top event on the European Tour, where the likes of Lee Westwood and Ian Poulter are teeing off at the Scottish Open at Gullane Golf Club. On the PGA Tour, Day 4 of the John Deer Classic gets underway in the United States, as does the Marathon Classic on the LPGA Tour. In the MLS, Atlanta United take on the Seattle Sounders at the Mercedes-Benz Stadium, and Los Angeles FC face Portland Timbers at the Banc of California Stadium. MLB action comes in the form of an all Los Angeles clash, as the Dodgers play the Angels, while the Baltimore Orioles host the Texas Rangers. The German MotoGP takes place at the Sachsenring in Hohenstein-Ernstthal. Stage 9 of the Tour de France begins in Arras Citadelle and finishes 156.5 kilometres later in Roubaix over a hilly stage.

Whatever you’re watching, enjoy!

Fixture

Photos by FIFA World Cup 

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