France 4-2 Croatia
15 July 2018, 18:00 local (16:00 UK)
Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow
World Cup Final
And so the UFWC title arrives at the 2018 FIFA World Cup final in the hands of current Unofficial Football World Champions Croatia, who face challengers France. This is the tenth time the UFWC title has been contested at the WC final, and the 17th time the UFWC and FIFA title have been “unified”. So the winner of the World Cup final, either France or Croatia, can claim to be the undisputed official FIFA and unofficial UFWC football world champions.
Croatia have held the UFWC title since beating Denmark in the round of 16 via a penalty shoot-out. They then beat Russia in the quarter finals – again on penalties – then beat England 2-1 after extra time. It’s been a tough run of extended-play games, but rather than tire Croatia seem to have found an extra gear, led by the brilliant Luka Modric, supported more than ably by Ivans Rakitic and Perisic, with the redoubtable Mario Mandzukic up front.
France have also had a tough run to the final, seeing off Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium to deservedly reach football’s ultimate match. Captain Hugo Lloris has been inspirational in goal, with Real Madrid’s Raphael Varane brilliant in defence. Paul Pogba has silenced more than a few doubters with a seemingly new-found maturity in midfield. And up front the excellent Antoine Griezmann and Olivier Giroud have been outshone by 19-year-old Kylian Mbappé – arguably, along with Modric, the tournament’s best player.
Croatia’s three UFWC title match wins – their first ever – have moved them onto the UFWC all-time rankings table in 37th position. France, with 25 title match wins, are 11th – although they haven’t won a title match since 2001. Croatia are ranked 20th in FIFA’s rankings, compared to France’s 7th.
France are one of the eight nations who have previously won the “undisputed” title. They did this at the 1998 World Cup final, when they beat UFWC champions Brazil. Then they regained the unofficial title, while still official champions, at the Euro 2000 final when they beat Italy to unify the UFWC, FIFA and UEFA titles. Current France manager Didier Deschamps captained his country to both those victories.
Undisputed UFWC and WC champions:
Italy 1939, 1982, 2007
Germany 1958*, 1974*, 2014
Brazil 1958, 1998, 1998**
Argentina 1978, 1986
France 1998, 2000
*As West Germany
**Brazil lost and regained the undisputed title in 1998
So who will be the undisputed official and unofficial football world champions? Will Deschamps lead France to historic glory again, or can Zlatko Dalic manage Croatia to a brilliant double? The combined FIFA World Cup final / UFWC title match kicks off at 18:00 local (16:00 UK) on Sunday, 15 July 2018 at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
New for 2018,the latest edition of the official UFWC book, Unofficial Football World Champions.
This is the fourth edition of the book that has been published in every World Cup year since 2006. Expanded and updated to include new matches, teams, players and statistics, it’s a complete guide to the UFWC, including all 936 title matches played since 1872, and all 48 unofficial football world champions.
It’s available exclusively from Amazon stores worldwide, priced at £9.99 or $13.95 – click here.