Russia Watch: Croatia’s motivation for FIFA World Cup™ final

The biggest game in world football is just days away as France meets Croatia in the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup™.

There’s plenty of news coming out of Russia ahead of the decider, with a third-place playoff match between England and Belgium also to be played on Sunday morning (AEST).

RUSSIA WRAP: Croatia sends England packing

READ: Caltex Socceroos forward tipped for Europe's top tier

We’ve got all the news ahead of the final two matches of the tournament in our Russia Watch.


Croatia will use their defeat in the 1998 FIFA World Cup™ semi-finals to France as motivation in Mondau morning’s (AEST), says attacker Ivan Perisic.

Perisic's equaliser and Mario Mandzukic's composed finish in the second half of extra time saw Croatia come from behind to beat England 2-1 in a thrilling semi-final.

Zlatko Dalic's men will now contest the country’s first FIFA World Cup™ final against France, 20 years on from losing to Les Bleus in the last four in their first appearance at the tournament in.

Croatia will be underdogs for the final, but Perisic told "France stopped us in the semi-finals in 1998. We will have some extra motivation because of that, for sure.

"They are favourites, but we will do our best to surprise them.

“We have three days to prepare ourselves. Our dream is so close now."



Paul Pogba has hailed Kylian Mbappe's rapid ascent to the top of world football and says the 19-year-old: “understands things I didn't when I was his age."

PSG forward Mbappe has been one of the stars of the FIFA World Cup™, scoring three goals and terrorising defences in six appearances to help his country reach a third final in 20 years.

Ahead of Les Bleus' clash with Croatia on Monday (AEST), Pogba heaped praise on Mbappe's desire, ambition and maturity.

"Kyky is young, we know it, he knows it, but on the pitch there are no youngsters," Pogba told reporters.

"He says he wants to win titles. He's not being pretentious; he wants to do it. He'll do everything to do it, he has the talent to do it. But it’s not bad, he's allowed to be ambitious and I think it's good at his age, he wants to win things.

"He's going to learn, he's going to grow, he's young, he'll get more experience, he's already ahead for his age but he'll keep working, I talk to him, I give him advice, but that's his talent.

"He's mature enough, he's very mature for his age to understand, he understands things I didn't when I was his age. So it's only good things for him."

Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba
Kylian Mbappe and Paul Pogba


FIFA has named Argentinian Nestor Pitana as the referee for Monday morning's (AEST) FIFA World Cup™ final.

The 43-year-old is known to Australian fans as the man in charge of the second leg 3-0 win over Honduras in Sydney.

At this tournament he has officiated the opening game between Russia and Saudi Arabia and was in charge for France's quarter-final victory over Uruguay, as well as Croatia's last-16 clash with Denmark.

He is joined by assistant referees Hernan Maidana and Juan Belatti, as well as fourth official Bjorn Kuipers.