The Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow will host the final.
|Event||2018 FIFA World Cup|
|Date||15 July 2018|
|Venue||Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow|
|Man of the Match||Antoine Griezmann (France)|
|Referee||Néstor Pitana (Argentina)|
27 °C (81 °F)
The 2018 FIFA World Cup Final was the final match of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. It was the 21st final of the FIFA World Cup, a quadrennial association football tournament contested by the men's national teams of the member associations of FIFA. The match was contested by France and Croatia and held at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, Russia, on 15 July 2018.
Before 2018, France's only World Cup victory was in 1998 – though they had also reached the final in 2006 – while Croatia were playing in their very first World Cup final. Both teams had defeated former World Cup champions on their way to the final: France defeated the the 1930 and 1950 winners Uruguay, Croatia defeated the 1966 winners England and both teams defeated two-time champions Argentina. Croatia became the third Eastern European nation to reach the World Cup final, and the first since Czechoslovakia (today the Czech Republic) lost the final in 1962 to Brazil.
France won the match 4–2, having taken a 2–1 lead during the first half on an own goal and penalty awarded by the video assistant referee in the system's first use at a World Cup final. It was the first time that an own goal had been scored in a World Cup final. France also became the second team after Brazil in 2002 to win all their knockout matches without any extra time or penalty shoot-out. As winners of the World Cup, France earned the right to compete for the 2021 FIFA Confederations Cup.
The final was played at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, located in the Khamovniki District of the Central Administrative Okrug. The stadium was confirmed as the final venue on 14 December 2012, following a meeting by the FIFA Executive Committee held in Tokyo, Japan. The stadium will also host six other matches, including the opening match on 14 June and the second semi-final match on 11 July.
The Luzhniki Stadium, previously known as the Grand Arena of the Central Lenin Stadium until 1992, originally opened in 1956 as part of the Luzhniki Olympic Complex. The stadium has served as the national stadium of the country, hosting many of the matches of the Russia national team, and previously the Soviet Union national team. In the past, the stadium has been used as the home ground at various times for CSKA Moscow, Torpedo Moscow, and Spartak Moscow. However, there are currently no clubs based at the stadium.
The stadium has hosted numerous international sporting events. The stadium was the chief venue for the 1980 Summer Olympics, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics, football (four matches, including the gold medal match), and the Individual Jumping Grand Prix. The stadium hosted the 1999 UEFA Cup Final, as well as the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final. Other events staged include the Spartakiad, the final game of the 1957 Ice Hockey World Championships, the 1973 Summer Universiade, the Friendship Games in 1984, the 1986 Goodwill Games, and the 1998 World Youth Games. In 2013, the Rugby World Cup Sevens and World Athletics Championships were held at the ground. The stadium has also served as a venue for many concerts for artists such as Michael Jackson, The Rolling Stones, Madonna, Metallica, Kino, U2, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Moscow Music Peace Festival also took place at the stadium in August 1989.
An UEFA Category Four stadium, the Luzhniki Stadium is the largest stadium at the 2018 World Cup and in Russia, with a maximum capacity of 81,006. This also makes the stadium the largest in Eastern Europe, and the eighth-largest overall in Europe. As part of Russia's World Cup bid, the stadium was rebuilt and expanded, with work begenning in August 2013. The self-supported cover was retained, along with the historical facade of the stadium, due to its architectural value. The stadium reconstruction project finished in 2017, having cost €350 million.
After Uruguay and Brazil were eliminated in the quarter-finals, a European side was ensured to win the World Cup for a fourth consecutive tournament. The match was also the ninth all-European World Cup final, which most recently occurred in 2006 and 2010.
The match was the third World Cup final for France, first appearing in the 1998 final as hosts, winning 3–0 against reigning champions Brazil. France also contested the 2006 final, where they lost to Italy in a penalty shoot-out following a 1–1 draw. Only Germany (eight) and Italy (six) have reached more finals among European nations. Didier Deschamps became the fourth person to reach a World Cup final as both a player and as a manager, after Franz Beckenbauer, Rudi Völler, and Mário Zagallo.
The match was the first World Cup final for Croatia in their fifth World Cup appearance. They are the 10th European country and 13th overall to reach a World Cup final, and the first new finalist since Spain in 2010. With a population of 4.17 million, Croatia is the second smallest country to play in a World Cup final, behind Uruguay (victors in 1930 and 1950). Croatia's previous best performance was as World Cup debutants in 1998, when they finished in third place, losing 2–1 to hosts France in the semi-finals before beating the Netherlands 2–1 in the third place play-off.
The final was the sixth meeting between France and Croatia, with France undefeated in the previous fixtures with three wins and two draws. The two sides first met in the 1998 World Cup semi-final, with hosts France winning 2–1. Their only other competitive meeting was during the group stage of Euro 2004, which finished as a 2–2 draw. Their next, and most recent, meeting was in a March 2011 friendly match, which finished as a 0–0 draw.
Route to the final
| Group C winners
|Final standings|| Group D winners
|Argentina||4–3||Round of 16||Denmark||1–1 (a.e.t.) (3–2 p)|
|Uruguay||2–0||Quarter-finals||Russia||2–2 (a.e.t.) (4–3 p)|
France entered the 2018 World Cup as favorites to win the tournament, particularly for their strong squad featuring several youth talents. The team finished as as runners-up to Portugal at Euro 2016, which the country hosted. The team qualified for the World Cup proper after finishing first in their qualification group, ahead of Sweden and the Netherlands.
At the World Cup, France were drawn into Group C alongside Australia, Denmark, and Peru. The team defeated Australia 2–1 in its opening match in Kazan, with a penalty called by the video assistant referee and scored by Antoine Griezmann followed by an own goal deflected by Australian defender Aziz Behich. In its second match, France won 1–0 over Peru on a goal scored by 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé, who became France's youngest goalscorer at a major tournament. The victory over Peru qualified France for the knockout stage, allowing manager Didier Deschamps to rest several starting players for the final group stage match against Denmark. The match at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow finished in a scoreless draw marked by misplaced passes and goalkeeping mistakes. The team's group stage performance was characterized as lacking cohesion and failing to use its star players effectively.
Finishing as winners of Group C, France were matched in the round of 16 with Group D runners-up Argentina. France won 4–3 on two goals scored by Mbappé, who also won a penalty in the opening minutes. Mbappé's performance drew comparisons to Pelé, who in 1958 was the last teenager to score twice in a World Cup match. In the quarter-finals, France defeated Uruguay 2–0 on a goal and assist by Antoine Griezmann. The team advanced to a semi-final match against Belgium in St. Petersburg, which ended in a 1–0 win for the French with a corner kick headed into the goal by defender Samuel Umtiti. The French team, particularly Mbappé, were criticized for time-wasting and other unsportsmanlike conduct in the semi-finals after taking the lead in the second half.
Croatia entered the 2018 World Cup as potential contenders, with their golden generation led by forward Mario Mandžukić and midfielders Marcelo Brozović, Mateo Kovačić, Luka Modrić, Ivan Perišić, and Ivan Rakitić. The team had been eliminated in the group stage at the 2014 tournament, but reached the round of 16 at Euro 2016. In their qualification group, Croatia scored 15 goals and finished second to Iceland after appointing manager Zlatko Dalić amid a series of poor away results. However, Croatia managed to advance past Greece in the qualifying play-offs, winning the first leg 4–1 and drawing 0–0 in the second.
Croatia were drawn into Group D with Argentina, Iceland, and Nigeria, considered a difficult draw due to Argentina's talent and Nigeria's historic performances. In their opening match, the team earned a 2–0 victory over Nigeria, with an own goal by Oghenekaro Etebo caused by Mandžukić and a penalty scored by Modrić. Croatia went on to upset Argentina with a 3–0 win and finished atop the group with a 2–1 win over Iceland, resting several starting players in the final match.
In the round of 16, Croatia played Denmark and earned a 1–1 draw after the two teams exchanged goals in the opening five minutes and a missed penalty from Modrić in extra time. Croatia won the subsequent penalty shootout 3–2, with three saves by goalkeeper Danijel Subašić and two saves by Danish goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel. The team advanced to a quarter-final fixture with hosts Russia, who had defeated Spain in the round of 16, in Sochi. The Russians scored their first in the 31st minute, but Andrej Kramarić equalised for Croatia eight minutes later and kept the score at 1–1 through the end of regular time. Croatia took a 2–1 lead in extra time with a header by Domagoj Vida, but Russian defender Mário Fernandes equalised in stoppage time to trigger a penalty shootout. The shootout was won 4–3 by Croatia after two misses by Russia and a shot by Modrić that rebounded off the post and into the goal. Croatia became the second team in World Cup to win two shootouts in a tournament, after Argentina in 1990. After the match, a video of Vida saying "Glory to Ukraine" prompted controversy among Russians and a warning from FIFA's disciplinary committee, which enforces a ban on political slogans. Croatia's semi-final match against England at the Luzhniki began with a free kick goal by English defender Kieran Trippier in the fifth minute. Croatia resisted several attempts by England to score a second goal and earned an equalising goal of their own through a shot by Perišić in the 68th minute. The match was won 2–1 by Croatia after a 109th minute goal by Mandžukić.
The official match ball for the final was the Telstar Mechta (dream or ambition), a red-coloured variant of the Adidas Telstar 18 introduced for the knockout stage. The Telstar family, an homage to the original 1970 Telstar, was designed similarly to 2014's Brazuca, but with longer seams and additional panels.
Argentine referee Néstor Pitana was selected to lead the officiating team for the final, which was announced on 12 July 2018 by the FIFA Referees Committee. The final is Pitana's fifth match as referee during the tournament, becoming only the second referee to officiate the opening match and the final. Pitana officiated an additional group stage match, along with two knockout stage matches in the round of 16 and quarter-finals. Pitana has been a FIFA referee since 2010, and officiated four matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup. His compatriots Hernán Maidana and Juan Pablo Belatti were chosen as assistant referees. Björn Kuipers of the Netherlands was chosen as the fourth official, with his fellow countryman Erwin Zeinstra as the reserve assistant. Italian Massimiliano Irrati was named the video assistant referee, presiding over the first use of the technology at a World Cup final. Argentine Mauro Vigliano was chosen as the assistant video assistant referee, while Carlos Astroza of Chile was appointed as the second assistant and Danny Makkelie of the Netherlands as the third assistant.
The tournament's closing ceremony was held prior to the start of the match, featuring a performance of "Live It Up", the official song of the tournament, by Will Smith, Nicky Jam, and Era Istrefi. Jam also performed "X (Equis)", wearing a shirt honoring J Balvin. Opera singer Aida Garifullina sang Russian folk song Kalinka, accompanied by a children's choir and percussion section that featured a cameo by Brazilian star Ronaldinho. The FIFA World Cup Trophy was presented by Philipp Lahm, German captain during the 2014 final, and Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova.
Croatia kicked off the final at 18:00 local time (15:00 UTC), with the ground temperature reported at 27 °C (81 °F). The match was played through a minor thunderstorm, which produced several visible lightning strikes. An audience of 78,011 spectators at the Luzhniki Stadium watched the match, including ten heads of state, among them Russian president Vladimir Putin, French president Emmanuel Macron, and Croatian president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović. The starting lineups for both teams were identical to those fielded in the semi-finals.
Croatia had the majority of possession and chances early in the first half, with the ball staying mostly within France's half of the pitch. An attack by French midfielder Antoine Griezmann was stopped by a challenge from Marcelo Brozović, which was called as a foul despite claims that he dived. Griezmann took the ensuing 30-yard (27 m) free kick, which was diverted into his own net by Mario Mandžukić to give France the lead in the 18th minute. It was the first own goal to be scored in a World Cup final and the 12th of the tournament, the most of any World Cup.
Ten minutes later, Croatia equalised with a strike by Ivan Perišić, assisted by Domagoj Vida after a free kick by Luka Modrić. In the 34th minute, however, a penalty was awarded against Croatia after Perišić's handball in the box was reviewed by the video assistant referee. Griezmann scored the penalty in the 38th minute, giving France a 2–1 lead at half-time; the first half's three goals were the most of any World Cup final since 1974. France led at half-time despite having only one shot on goal and with only 34 percent of possession.
Play was forced to stop early in the second half after several pitch invaders were chased onto the field by security officers; Russian feminist rock band and protest group Pussy Riot claimed responsibility for the interruption. In the 59th minute, France extended their lead to 3–1 with a strike from the edge of the penalty area by Paul Pogba after his initial shot had been blocked. Six minutes later, Kylian Mbappé scored France's fourth goal, with a shot from outside the box; Mbappé became the first teenager to score in a World Cup final since Pelé in 1958. Croatia scored their second goal in the 69th minute, as from a back-pass, France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris failed to dribble around Mandžukić, who poked the loose ball into the unguarded net. Despite a late push by Croatia, the match finished as a 4–2 victory for France and the highest-scoring World Cup final since 1966.
| 15 July 2018|
18:00 MSK (UTC+3)
|France||4–2||Croatia|| Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow|
Referee: Néstor Pitana (Argentina)
| Mandžukić 18' (o.g.)|
Griezmann 38' (pen.)
| Report (FIFA)|
| Perišić 28'|
Man of the Match:
France became the sixth country to win the World Cup more than once. Didier Deschamps became the third person to have won the World Cup as both a player and manager, after Franz Beckenbauer and Mário Zagallo. The final is the highest scoring since 1966, and the highest score in regular time since 1958. Large crowds, including 90,000 people at the Eiffel Tower fanzone, celebrated the victory in Paris.
Luka Modrić of Croatia won the Golden Ball as best player of the tournament. France's Antoine Griezmann, the final man of the match, also won the Bronze Ball and the Silver Boot award with four goals and two assists. Kylian Mbappé won the Best Young Player award for the tournament.
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