Sketching meandering patterns, subtle back-heel offerings, set-pieces — the word ‘wrong’ didn’t exist in France’s dictionary in Russia. The star-studded (read: Paul Pogba, Antoine Griezmannn and Kylian Mbappe) French side have been brutal in the ongoing World Cup.

If France relied on pace, Croatia galloped on self-belief and stamina. Carrying the legacy of Davor Suker (from the semifinal batch of 1998) had become no less than a burden. It made them steel enough to last back-to-back extra-time shenanigans.

France was expected to finish top but Croatia wrote one of those remarkable stories. Being a small nation with limited resources, the Croatians’ march to the final helped them shed the Suker baggage to an extent. The quarterfinal win against had already lit up the main square in Zagreb.

Ahead of the final clash, here’s a SWOT analysis.

The Mbappe factor

The 19-year-old has clearly been the star of the tournament with his pace and teenage raw. He would need a constant supply line to deliver the goods. Mbappe has netted thrice in the tournament. Oliver Giroud needs to continue in the role of the parent feeding his offsprings. There is also a Griezmann in the picture. The two goal addicts need to be Giroud-alert.

Belgium midfielder Kevin de Bruyne went on record to label Mbappe as a future star. “He's a star for the next 15 years. He's had a fantastic year – he can even improve, if that's possible. He can be dangerous,” de Bruyne.

The Hugo and Deschamps tough

The France goalkeeper, more popular as the captain of Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League, has been a rock at the bar pulling of stellar saves. The attitude of the custodian came as tons of confidence for the Frenchmen.

Lloris is a complete team man; always standing up for his nation. No wonder he erupted when the Belgium players despised France’s defensive approach in the semifinal as “anti-football”.

"We can play in different ways, in different styles. But the most important thing is that all the players are involved to help the team. We are quite complete as a team,” he said after the semifinal triumph.

Being a soldier, he attended to the coach’s commands. Lloris, in fact, revealed that France was able to beat Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium sticking to Didier Deschamps’ plans. “The manager deserves a lot of credit because against Argentina and Uruguay, and Belgium, his plan was perfect,” he said,” adding, “We adapt the way we play against our opponent and this is his credit. We have the talent, we have the belief, the spirit to turn the game the way we want.”

If France nails the final draw, Deschamps will become the third man in history to win a World Cup first as player and then, as coach.

Modric – the best midfielder?

The flexible central midfielder — from the Real Madrid school of football — has been spot on with his passes. In fact, in the last season, his passing accuracy has been close to 90 per cent in all tournaments; higher than that of De Bruyne (83 per cent) and Paul Pogba (85 per cent). He maintained the accuracy at 86 per cent in Russia.

Croatia’s midas touch in the World Cup is largely due to the form of Modric, who scored twice and assisted once.

Sweet revenge

France had beaten Croatia in 1998 to meet Brazil in the final. The Croatians wouldn’t mind a sweet revenge. Ivan Perisic agrees. “France stopped us in the semifinals in 1998. We will have some extra motivation because of that, for sure."

Characters like Modric and Ivan Rakitic will be the key.

If you can last 120 minutes with fever and publicly ridicule the British pundits for undermining your side, surviving French pace is no big deal. July 15 is the cruel day.