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 By Derek Bilton

France to beat Croatia in World Cup final? Goals galore in England vs. Belgium?

In the end then football didn't come home. The technical nous of an indefatigable Croatian side ultimately proving too much for Gareth Southgate's brave England. But what a ride. There's still the small matter of a World Cup final of course, and we feel France are deserving favourites to win Sunday's showpiece.

Running total: +£40.51

The Banker

One wonders just what Croatia will have left against the French after running themselves into the ground for the third match in a row? They produced a Herculean effort to get over the line against England at the Luzhniki Stadium, but may have to go the distance again to see off this brilliant French side. It's amazing that Croatia have come this far with one of the oldest squads in the tournament, but as Luka Modric has proved time and again this summer, there's many a good tune played on an old fiddle. However this just feels like France's time. The inconsistency they showed in qualifying (losing to Sweden and drawing against Belarus and Luxembourg) has been replaced by a steely determination and having choked when it mattered most two years ago they have the players and the experience to finally deliver a first major trophy in 20 years.

Selection: £6 on France to win at 19/20 with bet365.

The First Goal Flutter

While Croatia deserve immense credit for beating England, the truth is the Three Lions could have been out of sight by half-time and Croatia's vulnerability at the back could easily be exploited by this explosive French side. Antoine Griezmann has been a profitable friend to this column throughout Russia 2018, and the mercurial striker looks a bet at 4/1 to score first. He will be full of confidence having played a big part in Les Bleus' stunning round of 16 win over Argentina, and scored the second in their quarterfinal win over Uruguay. Grizou looks to be playing at the absolute peak of his powers and he has the ability to get the party started on Sunday.

Selection: £2 on Griezmann to score first at 4/1 with bet365.

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The Wildcard Tip

World Cup finals are often notoriously tight affairs but you'd have to give France the edge in every department here, with the possible exception of Croatia's magnificent midfield. Then there's the fact that Croatia have never beaten Les Bleus in five previous attempts, and the fact they could be running on empty after Wednesday. The prospect of Kylian Mbappe running at a weary Croatian defence is a frightening one, and punters should not be totally surprised if France run away with this. A 3-0 win for Didier Deschamps' side is available at 16/1, and could be worth a speculative interest.

Selection: £1 on France to win 3-0 at 16/1 with bet365.

The Bookie Basher

England take on Belgium for the third place playoff on Saturday, so don't pack away your England shirts just yet. Just like their encounter in the group phase, expect plenty of changes from both sides as players who have been on the periphery of this tournament get a run out. Historically these matches are usually good for a few goals, so a 3-2 win for Belgium in St Petersburg might be the way to bet.

Selection: £1 on Belgium to win 3-2 at 28/1 with bet365.

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