France v Croatia: Paul Merson and Charlie Nicholas predict World Cup final
Olivier Giroud key for France, says Merse
Last Updated: 15/07/18 4:22pm
Who will come out on top when France meet Croatia in the World Cup final on Sunday?
France reached the final with a 1-0 victory over Belgium while Croatia beat England in extra-time, having won their previous two knockout matches on penalties.
So who prevails in Moscow? Paul Merson and Charlie Nicholas make their predictions and picks his key player...
I was shocked with Croatia against England. In my preview for the game I said if we are leading or level with 30 minutes to go we should run away with it, but it was the other way round. They were full of running and we were out on our feet.
I thought playing three extra-time games in a row would catch up with Croatia but it didn't seem like it did. They weren't on the ropes at any point so I'm not sure whether they will tire for the final. Good players keep the ball and if you keep the ball you don't get that tired.
Croatia are a good team, but will it be a game too far?
France's front three is probably around as good as England's based on the way they have played at this tournament and the midfield is better without a doubt. That is where Croatia won the game against us.
France have got better as the tournament has gone on. They fell over the line against Australia but they have got better without being flamboyant or really outstanding. It's not the 1998 team. This is an efficient team that gets the job done and they have a good balance.
It will be a hard game for France, and if Croatia won I would not be shocked, but I think France might have a bit too much.
Olivier Giroud could be the key man. I think he's under-rated. If he can get the better of the two centre-backs and hold the ball up, then with Antoine Griezmann and Kylian Mbappe running off him I don't think Croatia will be able to live with France.
PAUL PREDICTS: 2-1 (9/1 with Sky Bet)
We were all waiting for Croatia to fall apart but England couldn't take advantage of their fatigue, whereas France have power and pace to really damage their tired backline.
I think France will leave out Olivier Giroud and I actually think they can play even better than they have been.
Has anybody ever seen Paul Pogba defend the way he did in the semi-final? What has Didier Deschamps done to him that Jose Mourinho couldn't?
The sheer grit of Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and even Dejan Lovren - who somehow thinks he's now a world class defender - managed to dig in against England.
But, if Croatia concede early, it could be an exhibition of football from France.
CHARLIE PREDICTS: 4-0 (40/1 with Sky Bet)