VAR penalty gives France 2-1 halftime lead over Croatia

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Most consider France to be the favorite for the match at the Luzhniki Stadium, just like two years ago when the country's national team faced Portugal in the European Championship final at home.

Nineteen-year-old Kylian Mbappé became only the second teenager to score in a World Cup final, helping France beat Croatia 4-2 on Sunday.

After winning the coveted trophy in 1998, 20 years later Les Bleus are once again at the cusp of history as they enter their third World Cup final.

"The 14 players I have integrated since the Euro final, they have only learned what playing a big tournament is all about here in Russian Federation, so of course the experience is less but the quality is there".

France coach Didier Deschamps has fielded the same starting line-up in every knockout-round match except the quarter-final against Uruguay when Blaise Matuidi was suspended and replaced by Corentin Tolisso.

"We saw in the last game that they finished the stronger of the two teams".

Croatia rallied to equalize on a terrific left-foot strike by Ivan Perisic, but France took the lead right back when Perisic handled the ball in the area.

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Mario Mandzukic celebrates Croatia's win against England in the World Cup semi-final in Moscow. And yes, that includes France's first and only in 1998. "We have to play as if this were the first game in this tournament".

France have been solid in defence throughout the tournament, their thrilling 4-3 win over Argentina in the last 16 aside.

"I don't care. I want the star (on my shirt for World Cup winners)".

Ivan Perisic, who scored and set up Mandzukic's victor against England, was among five Croatian players to miss training on Friday. But they also go into the clash after three tense and tiring extra-times, two of which they won thanks to a penalty shootout. But if they will be unable to give their all, they will tell us. It has been a memorable World Cup, let's hope we're in for a memorable World Cup final.

Ivan Perisic, who scored and set up Mario Mandzukic's victor in a 2-1 semifinal win over England, was among five Croatian players to miss training on Friday.

That tournament held in France was Croatia's very first appearance since gaining independence; back then the debutants would reach the semi-finals - famously eliminating Germany en route - but would suffer a 2-1 defeat to the hosts despite taking the lead.

"We've got on so well that I could spend another month with them because it's gone so smoothly".

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