Didier Deschamps vs Zlatko Dalic: Who will lift the 2018 World Cup trophy?

by Jack Kitson / 13 July 2018, 16:38

One of Didier Deschamps and Zlatko Dalic will stamp their name into the history books on Sunday night when France and Croatia lock horns in the 2018 World Cup final, which is the 21st edition of the showcase spectacle.

Only 19 managers have ever hoisted the famous golden trophy, with Italy’s Vittorio Pozzo the only gaffer to ever strike gold on two occasions, which he did back-to-back in 1934 and 1938.

Deschamps has of course got his hands on the trophy before, 20 years ago in fact, when he led France to glory on home spoil, as captain.

Should he go on to triumph in Russia, he’ll become the third man to win the World Cup as both a player and as head coach, with Mario Zagallo and Franz Beckenbauer the only two men to achieve this feat.

"There is a spirit in the squad that can move mountains. They are young and they will be even stronger in two and four years' time, “ said Deschamps.

"We have created an opportunity to become world champions but we are still not there. But we want to fulfil our destiny."

Meanwhile, Deschamps’ opposite number has only been in charge of Croatia since October, and has yet to lose a competitive game in charge of his homeland.

But Dalic now has the chance to become the first Balkan boss to win the World Cup when Croatia take to the field in the final for the first time in their history - the 13th nation to appear in the final.

The 51-year-old has moulded together a collective unit that crushed Argentina in the group stages, and have since gone on to play three successive knockout stage matches that have all gone to extra-time, two of which were won on penalties.

"At this World Cup, the star-studded teams relying on the big names are already on the beach. It's the compact, united teams fighting for something that are still around,” said Dalic.

"It's been the strangest World Cup. Football has advanced so much so any team can have well-organised defence, so there are no huge winning margins and the team is everything.

"This was our problem for 10 years, we had great individuals but no unity and that's why I had to build that unity of purpose in the team."

The countries have twice locked horns in major tournaments. 20 years ago France pipped Croatia 2-1 in the semi-finals of the World Cup - in a game Croatia led for one minute - while the honours were shared in the group stages of Euro 2004.

Deschamps’ France are the 4/9 favourites for glory - 10/11 to win in 90 minutes - while Croatia are priced at 2/1 to lift the trophy for the first time, and 4/1 to do so in normal time (all with Paddy Power).

Prediction: France 2-1 Croatia

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