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A month ago Russia’s 2018 FIFA World Cup began with a short but sweet opening ceremony before the hosts got the football under way with a 5-0 thrashing of Saudi Arabia.
In the interim football fans, and even those not previously enamoured with the beautiful game, have been treated to one of the best international tournaments of modern times.
Full of shocks and classic games, former champions Germany, Spain, Argentina, Uruguay, England and Brazil have all fallen by the wayside, and only 1998 winners France and first-time finalists Croatia are left.
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They will face off in the 2018 World Cup final at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium on Sunday at 6 p.m. local time (4 p.m. BST, 11 a.m. ET).
The showpiece clash will be preceded by the closing ceremony, which will be broadcast at in the UK on BBC One and ITV, and in the United States on Fox.
The headline act on Sunday is, of course, the meeting between Croatia and France.
The two sides have taken contrasting routes to the final. Croatia have required two penalty-shootout victories—against Denmark and Russia—and an extra-time defeat of England in the semi-finals to make it through the knockout rounds.
Meanwhile, France have beaten Argentina 4-3, Uruguay 2-0 and Belgium 1-0 in normal time and go into the final as strong favourites.
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The closing ceremony will serve as an appetiser for what should be a fascinating clash, although few details have been released as to what can be expected from the event.
American megastar Will Smith will perform the official song ‘Live it Up’ with Nicky Jam and Kosovan singer Era Istrefi.
Jam offered an insight into what to expect from the trio’s performance on Sunday, per FIFA.com.
“Doing a World Cup song is a dream come true. I’m really really happy to be here, but I’m super nervous. It’s so massive,” he said. “There may be a surprise in the show: a colleague and a friend may join us, so watch the show!”
It will also be a celebration of what has been a superb tournament.
Russia’s opening 5-0 defeat of Saudi Arabia was quickly followed by Portugal 3-3 Spain, arguably the match of the tournament.
Germany’s group-stage exit surprised everyone while Lionel Messi‘s Argentina fell to France after only managing to scrape through to the knockout rounds.
Belgium dazzled in defeating Brazil 2-1 in the last eight after a 3-2 comeback win over Japan, and England won their first ever World Cup penalty shootout, against Colombia in the last 16, on their way to a first semi-final since 1990.
Now there are only favourites France remaining, and Croatia, a nation of just 4.2 million that has only existed in its current form since 1991:
A first-time winner of such humble origins would potentially be a fitting winner in a tournament that has defied expectations at every stage.
But France will not be easily defeated as they look to win their second World Cup.