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France versus Croatia: The battle of the economies

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[LONDON] France and Croatia face off at the World Cup final on Sunday, an unexpected match-up that pairs one of the European Union's founding nations against the bloc's newest member.

On the route to the final, France scored 10 goals, conceded four, and held their opponents scoreless in four games. Croatia are ahead on goals, scoring 12, but they let in five and only kept two clean sheets. As the soccer analysts parse those numbers, let's see how the countries stack up in other ways.

It's still undecided who's better at football, but in terms of the economic outlook over the next year, it's pretty clear who's winning.

The question is: who'll win the game? France has a better World Cup record and a bigger pool of young men from which to draw its team, but they're slightly more partial to a tipple and aren't as fit as their Croatian counterparts.

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That said, the French are a happier bunch, ranking 23rd in the World Happiness Report, compared to Croatia's 82nd place. Could a first ever World Cup victory for Croatia turn the tables?

France are the bookmakers' favorite to win. A Goldman Sachs analysis also tips them, with a 63 per cent chance. Before the tournament, the Goldman model (with 1 million simulations) predicted Brazil would be champions, which didn't work out very well. That said, it should be noted that their second pick at the time was France.

But this weekend is about the beautiful game, not the dismal science. Kick off is at 6 p.m. in Moscow on Sunday.

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