Moscow memories stirred as France, Croatia meet again

  • France host Croatia two years after the Final of Russia 2018

  • Recollections of a historic match

  • How the teams have developed since: stats and squads

The same day and the same event can have a wildly divergent impact on different people, even when all were gathered in the same place for exactly the same reason.

Take 15 July 2018, the greatest day in the careers of 23 Frenchmen and for 23 Croatians the absolute worst of memories. Together, they met to contest the Final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, Les Bleus defeating Vatreni 4-2 to earn their second star and preventing their rivals from adding a first to their chequered shirts.

A little more than two years on, the teams are set to be reunited at the Stade de France this evening, with the two-time world champions hosting the Russia 2018 runners-up in the UEFA Nations League. To mark the occasion, takes a little trip down memory lane and looks at how the sides have evolved since that historic night in Moscow.

Russia 2018: the day of the Final

France 4-2 Croatia, 15 July 2018, Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow

As well as the match highlights above, you can watch the entire game HERE.

And why not relive how the whole day unfolded and immerse yourself in the build-up to kick-off thanks to our Visual Stories:

  • Final night in Moscow: the preparations, the stadium, the Trophy presentation by Philipp Lahm and how the game played out

  • Modric, Captain Croatia: a profile of Croatia’s talisman, who won the adidas Golden Ball at the tournament and, a few months later, was named The Best FIFA Men’s Player 2018

  • France: the road to Moscow

  • Croatia: the road to the final

  • France: the champions in stats: all the key figures from France’s title triumph

What happened next?

FIFA ranking: Following their victory in Russia, France leapfrogged Belgium at the head of the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, while Croatia jumped up to fourth – equalling their highest ever position, attained thanks to a third-place finish at France 1998. A month later, Les Bleus slipped back behind Belgium at the summit, though they have never dropped below third spot since. As for Croatia, they have not dipped lower than seventh and today lie sixth, with France currently right behind Les Diables Rouges(Red Devils) in second.

Results: Since sewing that second star on their shirts, Didier Deschamps’s side have disputed 18 games, winning 13, drawing three and losing just two – a 2-0 Nations League defeat by the Netherlands and a 2-0 reverse at the hands of Turkey in a UEFA EURO 2020 qualifier. In contrast, Zlatko Dalic’s men have a more mixed record from their 17 matches. They have posted eight wins, four draws and five losses, including a heavy 6-0 Nations League defeat in Spain and a 4-1 reverse in their most recent outing, away to Portugal in the Nations League on Saturday.

And now the reunion…

Squads: Two years and two months since their showdown on the grandest stage, the teams look very familiar. For a start, not only do Deschamps and Dalic remain in charge, but Hugo Lloris and Luka Modric still wear the armbands and the rest of the line-ups have barely altered. Only goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and forward Mario Mandzukic have withdrawn from the international scene, both calling time on their Croatia careers in August 2018 – when Mandzukic said farewell with 33 goals, putting him second on his nation’s all-time list behind Croatia legend Davor Suker (45).

The match: Some key names will be missing when the game kicks off behind closed doors at the Stade de France, with Modric and Ivan Rakitic out for Croatia while Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, Samuel Umtiti and Blaise Matuidi – all starters in Russia – are absent for the hosts. Due to a busy competition calendar, the two coaches could well rest a number of other key figures too, meaning the line-ups may bear scant resemblance to the starting XIs that captivated the world in July 2018. However, the shirts will be the same and to watch these sides in action will surely stir powerful memories for many football fans. Whether those are wonderful or painful will depend on where the fans are from…

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - JULY 15: General view of stadium during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final between France and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Moscow, Russia. (Photo by David Ramos - FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images)