World Cup 2018 final, France vs Croatia, closing ceremony, live updates: Time for grand finale

The FIFA World Cup 2018 comes to end on Sunday with France and Croatia battling it out in the final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. Luka Modric-led Croatia look to win their first World Cup title while Didier Deschamps’ side are aiming to land their second title two decades on from their triumph on home soil in 1998. Both France and Croatia have not lost a single game in the tournament till now and the FIFA World Cup 2018 final will be a repeat of their semi-final in 1998 where France emerged victorious. Follow live updates from the FIFA World Cup 2018 final and closing ceremony here.

19:35 hrs IST: Well, it is a huge occasion for Croatia and the fans are well aware of it. Braving rainy weather, Croatian fans are gathering in squares and streets around the country ahead of the World Cup final with France.

19:30 hrs IST: Croatia’s best showing before this year was when it reached the semifinals in 1998. But the team lost to host France in that game 20 years ago, and the French team went on to win its only World Cup title.

19:25 hrs IST: Ivan Perisic and Ivan Strinic, who had been pre-match injury doubts, have been passed fit for Croatia.Perisic was the star of Croatia’s 2-1 extra-time victory over England at the same Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday, scoring his country’s equaliser and then setting up the winner for Mario Mandzukic.

19:20 hrs IST: The France team has arrived at the Luzhniki Stadium for the World Cup final against Croatia. The team, escorted by five police motorcycles, arrived in a bus with a French flag adorned to the windows on either side of the vehicle.

19:16 hrs IST: France have played comparatively few minutes in the knockout phase and have a fully fit squad to choose from. Deschamps appears to be sticking with a 4-2-3-1 system, meaning Antoine Griezmann will start behind striker Olivier Giroud.

19:12 hrs IST: It has been a landmark year for Croatian football. The country has been caught up in football fever after the Balkan nation of 4.2 million people swept aside more fancied opponents to reach its first ever World Cup final, which Russia is hosting this year.

19:06 hrs IST: France and Croatia name unchanged teams for World Cup final. Croatia played 120 minutes or more in their last three games, but all the players are fit for the summit clash on Sunday.

19:01 hrs IST: Now, a look at the Croatia XI – Subasic, Vrsaljko, Lovren, Vida, Strinic, Brozovic, Rakitic, Rebic, Modric, Perisic, Mandzukic.

18:58 hrs IST: The teams are here and a look at the France starting XI – Lloris, Pavard, Varane, Umtiti, Hernandez, Pogba, Kante, Mbappe, Griezmann, Matuidi, Giroud.

18:54 hrs IST: Luka Modric has been star for Croatia in this World Cup and the skipper will once again be their main weapon against a disciplined France. The midfielder is well known for his penetrative passing and astute positioning sense.

18:49 hrs IST: A day after the nation celebrated Bastille Day – the storming of a prison during the French Revolution in 1789 – with a late-night fireworks display over the Eiffel tower, large numbers of fans have already started congregating in the same spot to watch the final.

18:46 hrs IST: The Croatian president has called on Russians to support Croatia in the World Cup final. In a video message recorded on a plane and posted to Facebook , Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic says in Russian “You are great hosts. Support Croatia today. Let’s be happy together.”

18:41 hrs IST: France are looking for the second title after beating Brazil in the 1998 final. FUN FACT – Kylian Mbappe wasn’t even born when they won the title. However, the youngster has been the heart and soul of this team.

18:38 hrs IST: Hello and welcome to the coverage of the FIFA World Cup 2018 final between France and Croatia.

Didier Deschamps, who captained France when they lifted the World Cup in 1998, can become only the third man to win the trophy as both a player and a manager after Franz Beckenbauer and Mario Zagallo.

The last time the two nations met in a World Cup was in the 1998 semi-final when two Lilian Thuram goals sunk a Croatian side playing in their first World Cup as an independent nation.

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