2018 FIFA World Cup Finals Recap France-Croatia

France-Croatia http://www.standard.co.uk

France are the World Champions after defeating Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup Final

            France are the World Champions for the second time in history after beating Croatia 4-2 in the World Cup Final. France lifted up the World Cup trophy for the first time since 1998, when they were the host of the FIFA World Cup. The rematch of the 1998 World Cup semifinals between Croatia and France, where France won 2-1 in 1998, ended once again in a French victory. The game started off with Croatia controlling the tempo, something France has shown can be comfortable with playing behind the ball. In the 18th minute the first goal was scored but it was an own goal by Croatian striker Mario Mandžukić off Antoine Griezmann’s free kick just outside the penalty box. Replay later showed that Griezmann was not fouled by Marcelo Brozović but he dived to get the foul, which the referee bought as a foul, which gave France the free kick in a dangerous which would result in France scoring in the 18th minute. Croatia would fire back quickly as Ivan Perišić scored a great left footed strike after a scramble for the ball in the penalty box, beautiful fake shot by Perišić let him get free from one of the World’s best defensive midfielders N’Golo Kante which resulted in Perišić scoring. France would receive a penalty in the 38th minute after a questionable handball in the box; question is was the hand in natural position when the ball hit Perišić’s hand. The referee used the VAR system (Video Assistant Referee) to help make the decision, but he took an awful long time to make the decision. At the end referee signaled a penalty for France and Griezmann stepped up to spot and scored the penalty to put France up 2-1 and that is how the first half ended. Two controversial goals by France in the first half had France undeservedly up 2-1 at the half. At half time Croatia had 7 shots and 61% possession to France’s 2 shots and 39% possession, clearly its seen who was the better team at the half. But all that matters is the result which the French had in their favor. Croatia had to become even more aggressive in the second half in order to find the equalizer; the French used this to their advantage to sit back and counter attack. Paul Pogba scored in the 59th minute to increase France’s lead 3-1 after his first shot was blocked by Croatian defender Dejan Lovren, but Paul Pogba got the rebound and shot a nice left footed finesse shot around the keeper. France quickly found a fourth goal as a solo effort from outside from teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe scored from a shot outside the box, this made the score 4-1 in the 65th minute. This pretty much wrapped up the game even though the third goal was what killed any confidence and motivation Croatia had left. Mario Mandžukić would decrease the deficit by scoring off French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris’s mistake, making the game 4-2 and that is how the game would end. Croatia was the better team in this game by looking at the stats and the way they played. France played more behind the ball and off counter attacks, which is how they scored their third and fourth goals off, this plan worked well for France at the end. France are the 2018 FIFA World Cup champions.

France v Croatia - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final
Luka Modrić and Kylian Mbappe http://www.goal.com

2018 FIFA World Cup Awards:

            Golden Ball (best player): Luka Modrić (Croatia)

            Golden Boot (top goal scorer): Harry Kane (England)

            Golden Glove (best goalkeeper): Thibaut Courtois (Belgium)

            Best Young Player: Kylian Mbappe (France)



Dino Pavleka: @dino_ATL

If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a writer for ATLSportsHQ please DM Phil Veasley (@_ATLPhil) on Twitter or send a sample article to atlsportshq@gmail.com.


2018 FIFA World Cup Finals Preview France-Croatia with Roundtable Predictions


France vs Croatia                              11AM ET, July 15th, 2018, Moscow, Russia

After a month of soccer goodness it all comes to an end today as the final match at the 2018 FIFA World Cup is played, the FIFA World Cup Final. The World Cup Final wraps up the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia and what a fantastic tournament it has been. Croatia and France are the last two teams standing, both European nations go head to head for soccer’s biggest trophy. France came into the World Cup as one of the favorites to win it all, while Croatia came in as a potential dark horse. Both teams have not lost game at the 2018 World Cup, meaning both teams come into this game undefeated so far. France and Croatia have faced off twice in major tournaments. The first meeting between the two teams was at the 1998 World Cup semifinals where France came from behind to win 2-1 and the second meeting was at EURO 2004 where the game ended in a 2-2 draw. This game will be a highly contested one; it is the World Cup Final. Croatia will look to continue to use their talented midfield to their advantage, but it will be a tougher task since the French also have a solid but a physical midfield. Ivan Rakitić did not have the best of games against England; expect Rakitić to have a better game against France. Luka Modrić was solid in Croatia’s win against England but has had many better performances throughout the World Cup. The third Croatian midfielder is Marcelo Brozović, who in my eyes had his best game in a Croatian jersey against England, will provide the dynamic midfield duo of Modrić and Rakitić some extra cover in the midfield. The French defense has been solid and very impressive in their last two games against Uruguay and Belgium. French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris continues to make timely saves when called upon. The two keys in this match are who will control the midfield and whose attacking players will produce. The midfield battle between Modrić-Rakitić-Brozović and Pogba-Kante-Matuidi will be an exciting battle; both midfields are filled with world class players who play at the top clubs in Europe. The key matchup in the attacking end will be between Ivan Perišić and Kylian Mbappe. Which one of these players who provide good attacking runs, crosses into the box, number of shots on goal and speed in open play will give their teams a decent shot at winning the game. At the end we can only have two things happen. France can redeem themselves after losing in the final of EURO 2016 to Portugal in Paris by beating Croatia today and winning the World Cup, which would be France’s second World Cup title. Or history can be made if Croatia beats France which would give Croatia their first ever World Cup title and first title in any major tournament. With all that in mind expect a great game today. This is the last World Cup game until 2022 when the World Cup will be hosted in Qatar. Four years is a long time to wait for another World Cup game, so be sure to watch today’s interesting World Cup Final.

Go onto the next page to see what we at Atlanta Sports HQ predict in today’s World Cup Final.



2018 FIFA World Cup Third Place Match Recap Belgium-England

Belgium-England http://www.foxsports.com.au

Belgium beat England 2-0 to take third place at the 2018 FIFA World Cup

Belgium have now won their first ever World Cup medal in their nation’s history. Belgium’s previous best World Cup finish was a fourth place finish the 1986 World Cup, but now they have a new best and that is thanks to this Belgium team. The game started off with some early action as Belgium scored in the 4th minute through Thomas Meunier. Other than that, nothing much happened in the first half. England did have a chance to score in the 23rd minute but Harry Kane could not connect off the layoff pass from Raheem Sterling. In the 70th minute Eric Dier had an 1v1 opportunity with the keeper; he tried to chip the keeper which was a good attempt and almost finished in the back of the net until his club teammate Toby Alderweireld cleared it off the goal line. It remained 1-0 for Belgium. As the game went on Belgium started to defend a bit more in hopes to keep the 1-0 lead, therefore England started to gain a lot more possession as a result. In the 80th, Belgium countered with Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens with a trailing Meunier. Mertens got into the box and switch the ball to the other side of the box to Meunier who shot it first time in hopes in finding his second goal on the day but was denied by England goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who has had a fantastic World Cup. Belgium would soon find the goal which would secure them the win and third place two minutes. Eden Hazard received a timely pass from De Bruyne and Hazard dibbled into the box and shot it near post to give Belgium the 2-0 lead. The game would finish 2-0 for Belgium which gave them the bronze medal at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Belgium beat England twice at this World Cup, 1-0 in the group stage and 2-0 in the third place match. Even though Belgium wanted to be in tomorrow’s finals instead of playing for third place today, they now at least got a World Cup medal. Something they could not say before this World Cup. Belgium now change their focus to the European Championships in 2020, Belgium will definitely be one of the favorites to win it all. Most of Belgium’s players will be entering or be in their prime years in 2020, which is good news for Belgium. England have a young squad and this World Cup was a good experience for them, especially with getting this far. This experience these young players gained this summer will be important for them at both club and international level in the future.


Dino Pavleka: @dino_ATL

If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a writer for ATLSportsHQ please DM Phil Veasley (@_ATLPhil) on Twitter or send a sample article to atlsportshq@gmail.com.


Croatia A Small Country With Big Expectations When It Comes To Sports

Croatia’s Location http://www.mapsland.com

Croatia is a country located in Southeastern Europe and with a population of only around 4.2 million it has huge expectations when it comes to sports. Croatia has been an independent country since 1991 and in those 27 years it has accomplished a lot when it comes to sports. Basketball, handball, soccer, tennis and water polo are the sports where Croatia mostly excels in; other sports where Croatia has done well in the past include skiing, sailing, rowing and athletics. Basketball was huge back in the 1990’s when Dražen Petrović and Toni Kukoč were leading the team; Croatia faced the original Dream Team in the finals of the 1992 Summer Olympics in Barcelona. But basketball in Croatia went a bit downhill after Petrović died in a car crash in Germany in 1993 at the age of 28.  In past few years basketball has regained its former popularity with Bojan Bogdanović and Dario Šaric now leading the team and hope has returned for the sport. On the tennis side Croatia has produced two great players who have each won one grand slam; those two players are Goran Ivanišević and Marin Čilić. The water polo team is constantly up there with the best teams in the world, having won multiple medals throughout the years. But the two sports which get Croatia exited and energized most for are by far handball and soccer. Handball is more of a winter sport in which most of the major tournaments (European Championship and World Championship) are played in January, only the Olympic handball tournament is played during the summer when the Summer Olympic games are held. Croatia has hosted some of these handball events before, hosting the World Championship in 2009 and twice the European Championship in 2000 and most recently in 2018. Croatia have won many medals when it comes to handball, most notably winning the World Championship in 2003 and winning two Olympic golds in 1996 (when the Summer Olympics were hosted in Atlanta) and in 2004. Soccer, the most played and watched sport on planet, has to be Croatia’s number one sport.




2018 FIFA World Cup Third Place Match Preview Belgium-England

Belgium vs England                          10AM ET, July 14th, 2018, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Two Group G members face off once again in this year’s World Cup, but this time in the match for third place or in other words the bronze medal match. This team played each other in their last group match on June 28th, where Belgium won 1-0. Hard to take anything from that match since both teams used majority of their reserve player, as both teams opted to rest their main players. In this match expect the big time players to play as a World Cup medal is on the line. Both teams lost in the semifinals; Belgium lost to France 1-0 in 90 minutes while England lost to Croatia 2-1 in 120 minutes. Belgium may be the fresher team coming into this match but that may not mean much if they do not come to play. Belgium will be the more hungrier team in this game as they have a chance to accomplish their best World Cup finish if they finish third; Belgium’s previous best is a fourth place finish at the 1986 World Cup. England however have already won a World Cup, so some might say they will not be as motivated as Belgium in this match. But this young English team will want to at least try and bring a medal back to England from this World Cup. Harry Kane the leading candidate for winning the golden boot with having six goals to his name. Kane will look to score in this match in order to better his chance at winning the golden boot award. Romelu Lukaku is behind him with four goals, but he has a bit of work to do in order to pass Kane. At the end I think this Belgium will be too strong for this England team. Belgium have the better players than England and definitely has more experience than this young English team. Expect Belgium to control this match without many problems.

Prediction: Belgium 3-0


Dino Pavleka: @dino_ATL

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2018 FIFA World Cup Semifinals Recap of Croatia-England

Croatia-England http://www.dailyrecord.co.uk

Croatia advance to its first ever World Cup final after dramatic 2-1 victory over England

Another Croatia game going to the distance, but this time it finished without having to go to penalties as Croatia were able to find the winner and hold on to that lead in extra time. The game started off with an early goal from the English. A mistake in Croatia’s mistake lead to Luka Modrić fouling Dele Alli just outside the box, resulting in Kieran Trippier scoring a fantastic free kick to give England the 1-0 in the 5th minute. England captain Harry Kane had a chance to double England’s lead in the 30th minute but was denied by Croatian goalkeeper Danijel Subašić; Raheem Sterling was wide open during Kane’s shot, had Kane had been unselfish he could have passed it to Sterling for an easy tap in which would have given England a 2-0 lead after 30 minutes. England did not look like they wanted to increase their lead after scoring early, but for Croatia it looked like the early goal was a shock to them. It looked like the early goal affected Croatia’s game plan and the players, but they responded very well in the second half. In the second half Croatia took control of the game and starting to be the more aggressive and willing team. The clear advantage the Croats had coming into the game was their dynamic midfield duo in Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić but a surprise to many both of them did not have the best of games. Modrić was covered really well by England’s defense, which as result affected Rakitić’s game as he had to play much deeper in the midfield than he wanted to. But the third Croatian midfielder Marcelo Brozović had a fantastic game against England and was the best midfielder in the game out of the three. Croatia equalized in the 68th minute off a Šime Vrsaljko cross from the right hand side which found Ivan Perišić who was able to put it past goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, who has had a fantastic World Cup for England. Croatia was playing better and better throughout the second half but that goal gave Croatia all the momentum. Perišić almost added a second goal in the 72nd minute as his left footed strike hits the right post, deny Croatia the chance to take the 2-1 lead. This is the second straight game that Perišić has hit post when the game was tied; first against Russia in the quarterfinals now against England in the semifinals. With the game tied at 1-1 after 90 minutes, the game headed towards extra time. In the 99th minute England almost scored off another set piece as header from John Stones was cleared off the goal line by Vrsaljko. In the 105th minute Jordan Pickford yet again made a fantastic save at the World Cup as he denied Mario Mandžukić’s almost guarantee goal, Pickford just got a touch to it with his knee. Croatia would find the winning goal in the 109th minute as Mario Mandžukić slots it by Pickford with a left footed shot to give Croatia the 2-1 lead. This goal would become the goal that sent Croatia to its first ever FIFA World Cup final. Even with Modrić and Rakitić not playing up to their standards, this was Croatia’s most complete performance since their 3-0 win over Argentina in the group stage. Croatia was the better team throughout the match and fully deserve to go through to the finals; Croatia had controlled more possession of the ball and had more shot attempts at goal than England. Croatia had 8 shots at goal while England only had 1 shot at goal throughout the whole 120 minutes. England becomes the first team to lose a World Cup semifinals game after leading at halftime. England will now face Belgium again but this time in the match for third place in Saint Petersburg on July 14th at 10AM ET. Croatia will face France in the 2018 FIFA World Cup finals in Moscow on July 15th at 11AM ET.


Dino Pavleka: @dino_ATL

If you or anyone you know is interested in becoming a writer for ATLSportsHQ please DM Phil Veasley (@_ATLPhil) on Twitter or send a sample article to atlsportshq@gmail.com.


2018 FIFA World Cup Semifinals Recap of France-Belgium

France-Belgium http://www.si.com

France advance to the World Cup finals with a 1-0 victory over Belgium

In what was set to be a World Class classic, I think we indeed got one. France advance to its first World Cup finals since 2006 with a narrow 1-0 victory over Belgium. This game started off with Belgium being the more aggressive and attacking team. French goalkeeper Hugo Lloris had to make back to back fantastic saves in the 19th and 21st minute to keep Belgium off the goal sheet. Even Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois was called upon when he just got a touch to Benjamin Pavard’s shot which resulted for a corner for Belgium. The first and only goal in the game came in the 51st minute when Antoine Griezmann’s corner found Samuel Umtiti for the header which gave France the 1-0 lead. This is now back to back games that one of the two French central defenders have scored in, Raphael Varane scored in their quarterfinal game against Uruguay. Afterwards Belgium had to start putting numbers forward in search for that equalizer. Belgium’s Eden Hazard had once again another great performance; his touch and dribbling were on world class display again. Hazard continued to cause problems to the French defense throughout the game, but especially in the last half hour of the game. The French were able to hold on to the clean sheet, resulting in them winning 1-0. France could have possibly made this 2-0 as they had two great chances in stoppage time, since Belgium put everything forwards in the dying minutes of the match; but the French failed to score on those gifted chances. Belgium were the better team throughout the match as the French looked like they wanted to sit back and hit them off the counter attack, which worked perfectly once they were in the lead. But these are the type of games potential champions have to show their worth and win the match under any circumstances, which they did. Big teams show time and time again they can win on their off days and that is why they are considered one of the top teams in the world. France is now in the World Cup finals where they will look to win their second World Cup and first since 1998. Belgium are massively disappointed after this loss as they thought they were the better team in this match and deserve to be in the finals. But Belgium now has one more match remaining where they can possibly still finish third which would become Belgium’s best World Cup finish, Belgium’s current best World Cup finish was in 1986 when they finished 4th. France will face the winner of the Croatia-England match in the final, while the loser of that match will face Belgium in the match for third place.