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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 16 October 2018

World Cup 2018 final guide and predictions: Mbappe to inspire France to victory over Croatia as Belgium take third place from England

Belgium to come out on top against England in the third-place play-off as France win World Cup for second time in their history

Kylian Mbappe and France will be celebrating on Sunday in the World Cup final according to The Nationa;'s prediction. EPA
Kylian Mbappe and France will be celebrating on Sunday in the World Cup final according to The Nationa;'s prediction. EPA

France or Croatia will be the 2018 world champions.

After 62 games we have our two finalists who will play for the World Cup on Sunday in Moscow

There are of course still two games to go, with losing semi-finalists Belgium and England competing in the third place play-off in Saint Petersburg.

Here is a look at the two remaining World Cup fixtures, what to watch out for, and some predictions.

Saturday July 14

Third place play-off

Belgium v England, 6pm

How they got there The two sides both came out of Group G, with Belgium topping it and England as runners-up.

Belgium produced a stirring comeback from two down with 21 minutes to go against Japan to win 3-2, then defeated Brazil 2-1, but fell short against France 1-0 in the semi-final.

England defeated Colombia on penalties after a 1-1 draw, then cruised past Sweden 2-0, but lost 2-1 to Croatia after extra time.

Previous meetings Their Group G encounter on June 28 was a strange affair, with both sides having already qualified for the knockout stages, and the respective managers resting players for the knockout stages.

Belgium won 1-0 on that night thanks to Adnan Januzaj's goal.

England beat Belgium at the last 16 stage in 1990 thanks to David Platt's goal in the last minute of extra time, but most neutrals will be hoping Saturday's game follows in the footsteps of the meeting at the 1954 World Cup when the countries played out a 4-4 draw.

Prediction Historically the third place play-off has delivered goals. You have to go back to 1974 when Poland beat Brazil for the last time there was fewer than three goals in the game.

Belgium are the top scorers in the tournament with 14 goals and the likes of Eden Hazard, Romelu Lukaku and Kevin de Bruyne will fancy their chances of ending on a high against a tired England defence who struggled to cope with Croatia's attack on Wednesday as the match went on.

Belgium to prevail 3-1 in a fun encounter.

Romelu Lukaku is Belgium's top scorer at the World Cup with four goals. Getty Images
Romelu Lukaku is Belgium's top scorer at the World Cup with four goals. Getty Images

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Read more

Zlatko Dalic: Croatia will be ready for France in the World Cup final

Imperious France have all the tools to deliver a second World Cup trophy

France to use Euro 2016 heartache to spur them on to World Cup glory, says Deschamps

Roberto Martinez says Belgium must 'regroup' for one final game to try and clinch World Cup bronze

Gareth Southgate 'proud' of England progress despite World Cup semi-final defeat

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Sunday July 15

World Cup final

France v Croatia, 7pm

How they got there After winning Group C with seven points, France won a seven-goal thriller with Argentina in the last 16, before comfortably beating Uruguay 2-0 in the quarter-finals. Samuel Umtiti's goal proved enough to defeat Belgium 1-0 in the semi-finals.

Croatia proved to be a surprise package as they won Group D with a 100 per cent record, beating Argentina 3-0 along the way.

After winning on penalties against Denmark and Russia in the second round and quarter-finals, they came from behind to beat England 2-1 with Mario Mandzukic scoring the decisive strike in extra time.

Previous meetings The most famous past clash between the two sides came in the 1998 World Cup finals where France hit back after Davor Suker had put Croatia ahead to win 2-1 as Lilian Thuram netted twice.

The teams last met in a friendly in March 2011, which was a goalless draw.

Their most recent meeting at a major tournament was at Euro 2004 where David Trezeguet's goal earned the French a 2-2 draw.

Prediction Croatia have shown real spirit in getting to the final and are a credit to former Al Ain manager Zlatko Dalic.

To have the resolve to come from behind and progress once in the knockout stages is impressive, but to do it three times is a stunning effort.

But, Croatia have not come up against a side as good as France yet, and this will be a step too forward.

The French ooze quality across the pitch and in Kylian Mbappe and Antoine Griezmann have a real goalscoring threat.

Mbappe was superb against Belgium and another super show on Sunday could well underline him as football's next superstar

France to lift the trophy for a second time after a 3-0 victory.

Didier Deschamps, right, captained France to the 1998 World Cup. He now stands one game from taking them to the title as a manager. AP Photo
Didier Deschamps, right, captained France to the 1998 World Cup. He now stands one game from taking them to the title as a manager. AP Photo