France was crowned at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow as the new world champion. The team led by Deschamps reached its second world title after the one won in 1998. Without being the team that has played the best, it has been the one that has best competed. Croatia put more football but this France showed a huge exuberance of physique and goal. After passing the final through the magnifying glass, here is my vision of what were tactical keys:
4-4-2 defensive and average pressure line
Neither France nor Croatia experienced a match like that. 4-2-3-1 and 4-1-4-1 were the usual structures but they did converge in the defensive field. The two teams played the defensive 4-4-2 more clearly than ever and none of them ventured to throw a high pressure in order not to break down. On the part bleu was Griezmann who lined up with Giroud while Rakitic or Modric were the ones who did the same on the Balkan side. Although clearly Croatia was the most proposed, both combined jumped with the intention of not breaking the defensive order.
The World of strategy
The World Cup strategy could not end otherwise. Directly or indirectly, the first three goals of the match had their origin in the set piece. Or what is the same, the most decisive of the final and those who transformed an encounter of equality into a party more favorable to the interests of France. Croatia looked for the short one in every corner kick that was produced and with that he created a lot of corners but the French resisted well.
On the contrary, those of Didier Deschamps who, only with a lateral fault and a corner, scored respectively a decisive goal and a penalty. For the third consecutive game, the strategy took out of the problem a France that obtained much more than the prize deserved, especially in the first part. The French only “manufactured” a shot, a pass to the area and … .just nine passes in the last 30 meters! (via @ FutbolAvanzado).
And if that were not enough, at the stroke of minute 40, the main turning point with the controversial penalty was produced. If the Gauls have done anything during the whole tournament it has been waiting for their moments. A few moments that, when the lines become long, build an ideal context for Mbappé, Pogba, Griezmann and company. France has been the strongest team running to space and showed it again.
The match and the Rakitic tournament
The fact that Croatia did not come out victorious should not subtract a single comma of a new match from Ivan Rakitic. Pressed up when it was necessary but without going down defensively. He participated in the collective game and always gave way. Not only did he provide solvency but he also knew where the team took the ball. He combined high presence with low receptions and lavished on the orientation changes to Vrsaljko in search of the most productive entry lane.
He finished as the third player with more participation and the footballer who, with three shots, tried more. Two of his passes ended on occasion and only Lloris prevented a great pass of his ending in the draw of Rebic. His deployment was not only brutal but it made all the sense in the world. Always in the shadow of Modric (who has also set an unbeatable tournament) or Perisic (for his goals) but the Croatian invention would not have supported without the role of Barca. His final was in line with his World Cup. Simply spectacular.
Pogba in the domain and Griezmann in the elections
As usual, France had a low percentage of the ball (34.3%) but did not get upset. Paul Pogba dominated the wide area almost by himself. He had legs and push as to minimize the Rakitic and Modric and go out the same way. To his physical potential, he added success with the ball. With 55 interventions, it ended up as the most participative French and securing 86% of the passes it gave. The change of Kanté by card left him without his main partner and, although the role of N’Zonzi was remarkable, the United hierarchized the core practically only.
For his part, Griezmann proved to be a fully mature player. The fantastic footballer did not shine but he completed a splendid and priceless performance for his team. In a meeting where one of the dangers had been to seek excess prominence, he knew how to provide the right dose of everything. Worked in an exemplary manner, stopped and started plays depending on each situation. He transformed the decisive penalty with aplomb and, without his precise launching in the lateral fault – it simulated it -, the first goal would not have occurred. Griezmann’s encounter has more imponderables than numbers but it ended up being undoubtedly decisive. A player who has already reached, without
For his part, Griezmann proved to be a fully mature player. The fantastic footballer did not shine but he completed a splendid and priceless performance for his team. In a meeting where one of the dangers had been to seek excess prominence, he knew how to provide the right dose of everything. Worked in an exemplary manner, stopped and started plays depending on each situation. He transformed the decisive penalty with aplomb and, without his precise launching in the lateral fault – it simulated it -, the first goal would not have occurred. Griezmann’s encounter has more imponderables than numbers but it ended up being undoubtedly decisive. A player who has already reached, without a doubt, the total maturity.
Fear of Mbappé gives space on the front
Undoubtedly, this World Cup has meant the presentation of Mbappé in society. Again, the fear of such a physical and soccer phenomenon conditioned the two moves that led to the sentence. In the third goal bleu is Pogba who starts the play and ends with a comfortable shot as placed as comfortable. Mbappé’s progression prior to the auction brings together three rivals who turn on him and this allows none of the Croatian troops to reach either the second play of Griezmann or to tackle the space in the front.
The diagonals of Perisic and the touch-ups in band
If we read the game over the result, Croatia was superior. He finished with more possession (65.8%), with more shots (14) and with more precision in his passes (83% on average). And in the bands it was where he moved with greater superiority. Perisic was one more day the most stinging piece of the Balkans and Dalic wanted to take advantage of it. The player jumped to the field with the task more than clear and tried to strike whenever he could. Not only on the outside but also on diagonals. When Croatia got stuck in controlled progression it always had the long Perisic alternative to surprise.
Dalic changed the band profiles several times between Rebic and Perisic throughout the match. It is not the first time he does it and it is an interesting maneuver. While it is true that it did not have a direct impact on the game, it did serve to bring in some doubts a rearguard as safe as France’s.
The solvency of Varane-Umtiti
Impossible to explain the crown of France without highlighting the role of the Umtiti- Varane couple. They knew how to play with the defense in retreat (in most moments) as well as with the defense above. They covered all the possible holes and took out all the band danger that Croatia managed to create, it will arrive as it came. Between them (Umtiti 7 and Varane 5) they dislodged the Croatian danger 12 times. They responded with cleverness and positioning the breakdowns and won with solvency the part in which Mandzukic manages better, the direct game. Varane won 75% of the disputes above …. And Umtiti won 100% of his aerial duels!
In addition both were almost direct protagonists of the first 2 so many bleus, the most determining. Match and World to frame this pair of plants. Undoubtedly, the most dominant center-fielder of current national teams.