Preview: World Championship Final

Going into the tournament France and Croatia were the heavy favorites. With only a few hiccups they’ve marched towards destiny and a final game full of anticipation. Both sides had easy wins in their semifinal matches and should be well rested. France dispatched Denmark without defensive standout Didier Dinart, but he is expected to play in the Final. They’ll need him and his strength to handle Croatian circle runner Igor Vori, who is having an outstanding tournament. Croatia has rested Ivano Balic throughout the tournament, but expect him to play more in this final than he has all tournament

So who’s going to win? Well man for man, I give the edge to France. If I had both sides in which to fill out one roster it would have 5 French starters: Guigou and Abalo at wing; Karabatic and Narcisse in the backcourt and Ohmeyer in goal. Croatia would add Vori at Circle Runner and Metlicic at right back. And, of course, I would have Dinart subbing in on defense. But, this match is being played in Zagreb, so these personnel shortcomings are offset by a loud and raucous crowd.

The bookies have called this game a pick em, with neither side favored. I’m going to give the edge, however, to France. They lost a close semifinal game to Germany two years ago in which the home crowd and some friendly officiating resulted in a narrow loss. They know, or they should know, that they will need their “A” Game to overcome the intangibles of playing a very good team in their home country. I think they will get an early lead and keep Croatia at arms length for the rest of the match.

If and when that happens the next discussion will be about whether we are seeing the beginnings of a dynasty taking shape.