The 2018 FIFA World Cup final pitting France against Croatia is Sunday at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium, with kickoff set for 11 AM ET/8 AM PT. The game to wrap a wild monthlong tournament full of twists and turns, upsets and upstarts will feature one young team built for the long haul that finds itself a win away from the country’s second World Cup versus a golden generation team trying become the smallest nation ever to hoist the trophy. All with more than 1 billion expected to tune in worldwide.
France, among the favorites coming in despite sporting the second-youngest roster in the 32-nation field, arrives to this point after topping its Group C then outscoring Argentina in the Round of 16, blanking Uruguay in the quarterfinals and outlasting neighboring Belgium in a tense 1-0 victory Tuesday.
Croatia, a nation of 4.5 million that only achieved independence from the former Yugoslavia 27 years ago, also won its difficult Group D. But unlike France’s path, its knockout games have been panic-attack-inducing affairs for its fans — Croatia has been behind in each match. It needed penalty kicks to beat Denmark and then host Russia in the quarters, and its semifinal victory over England on Wednesday came in the second half of extra time.
There is history here: It was 20 years ago that France won its only World Cup, on its home turf — it had to beat Croatia in the semifinals to do it. Now they meet again for sports’ biggest prize, which will go to a European country for a fourth time in a row.
As for the broadcast, Fox Sports will culminate its first World Cup with U.S. rights airing the game live on Fox with commentators John Strong and Stuart Holden doing the honors. Coverage begins at 9 AM ET/6 AM PT on Fox Sports 1 with the World Cup Live pregame show, with co-anchors Rob Stone at the broadcaster’s Red Square studio and Kate Abdo at Luzhniki Stadium. They will move to the Fox broadcast network at 10 AM ET/7 AM PT.
Fox Sports has seen solid ratings from the year’s tournament in Russia, with this week’s semifinals averaging 5.033 million viewers, down 6% vs the 2014 semifinals in Brazil (and its more favorable time zone for the U.S.) but up 49% from the 2010 semis in South Africa.
Spanish-language Telemundo, which is also setting records for its first World Cup as rightsholder, will also air the game live. It too has well surpassed comparable audience totals for the 2010 World Cup.
Online, the final can be seen in the U.S. via live stream for authenticated users on Foxsports.com and the Fox Sports App. On the Telemundo side, matches will be available via Telemundo Deportes En Vivo and NBC Sports; the Telemundo stations’ apps; and across mobile, tablet and most connected TV devices.
For those who have access to Hulu, the game is available with Live TV via Fox and Telemundo. The match will also be available live to subscribers to DirecTV. YouTube TV offers all games live in U.S. markets in English and Spanish through Fox, Telemundo and NBC Universo, and the YouTube TV cloud DVR feature is available to record the match.
Social media platforms like Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter will offer recaps and highlights.
In France, where 19.1 million viewers (70.5% of the audience) watched Les Bleus beat Belgium on Tuesday on TF1, that network and pay-tv net BeIn Sports will air Sunday’s final which begins at 5 PM local time.
In Croatia, Croatia Radiotelevision (HRT) is showing the tournament this year and Sunday’s final, its last before rights in the territory move to a pay-TV broadcaster.
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