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We discuss France and Croatia knowing the main narratives heading into the World Cup final on our most recent episode of the podcast. 

By Grant Wahl and Brian Straus
July 14, 2018

Ahead of the World Cup final, we discuss the different moods between the press conferences of Croatia and France and also talk a bit about the third-place game between England and Belgium.

Check out our World Cup final preview and stick around for an interview with Fox's Alexi Lalas, and be sure to subscribe to our podcast on iTunes to hear each episode throughout the 2018 World Cup.

Here's a snippet of the latest episode:

GRANT WAHL: Let's bring in Brian Straus, from Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow where you have been going to press conferences before the final, how are you man? 

BRIAN STRAUS: Ah it's been awesome.

GW: (laughs) Were the press conferences as scintillating as I might expect?

BS: They're never very quotable but there definitely was an obvious theme that emerged from the contrast between the two. ... There's a definite difference between Croatia, you know, a very, "We're going to enjoy this final." Dalic, the manager, talking about, "we're here. There's no pressure on us. We can't be more joyous and proud." The people in Croatia, he used the term "will create a seismic event" in support for us. Just very powered by sort of their journey here, how unlikely it's been, how chaotic it's been. And they have nothing to lose and I think there was a real subtext of him sort of saying, "yeah, guess who the pressure's on? It ain't us." 

And then you flip over to Hugo Lloris and Didier Deschamps and Lloris talking about being in a bubble and focusing only on the game and lots of questions to Deschamps about losing in Euro 2016 final and how do you turn it around? Deschamps said the other day that finals are there to win. There's no other option. It's clear that both sides kind of know the narrative here, that Croatia was not expected to be here. They've gone through just an insane amount of adversity to get here, both in the tournament and then, as we all know, the stories about what's gone on at the federation, what's gone on with some of their players. Luka Modric was flat out asked today how the war inspired him to like get this far and that's not something he wants to talk about but it's clearly something that's in the backstory of a lot of these guys.

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Whereas France has been on a very obvious championship-winning trajectory now for a long time in terms of player development, in terms of structure, in terms of the way Deschamps has built the team, in terms of the approach that they have. There's really only one possible outcome for them that will be anywhere close to satisfying, whereas Croatia just doesn't give a s---. They're just going to throw caution to the wind, like they have the whole tournament, and you got that sense from both sides today. So that was the gist of [the press conferences].

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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
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Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)