It’s a clash of the titans. The match millions have been waiting for. On Sunday, 15 July at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium at 18:00 local time, Croatia takes on France in the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

On the pitch, both teams look to be in great form, with France beating Belgium to reach their third final in 20 years, and Croatia knocking out England in extra time. Unlike their opponents, this will be the Croatian team’s first final, although they managed a respectable third place at the 1998 World Cup, the country’s debut at the tournament.

With just three days to go until someone lifts the iconic Jules Rimet Cup, this is how the nations stack up off the pitch.

Soccer Football - World Cup - Semi Final - Croatia v England - Luzhniki Stadium, Moscow, Russia - July 11, 2018  Croatia's Ivan Perisic scores their first goal                  REUTERS/Darren Staples     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
As tension mounts, who will come out on top?
Image: REUTERS/Darren Staples

Economic might

It may now be a big fish in the footballing world, but Croatia is an economic minnow by comparison with its opponent. With a GDP of $2.93 trillion, France is the 6th largest economy in the world, whereas Croatia ranks just 78th, with a GDP of $61.06 billion.

The French economy grew 1.8% in 2017 and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicts it will continue to grow, by 2.1% in 2018 and 2% in 2019. The Croatian economy has endured several periods of turbulence since the country’s inception in 1990, but has seen consistent growth in recent years — up 2.8% last year. The IMF predicts it will maintain that level of growth in 2018, before falling slightly to 2.6% for 2019.

Competitiveness

Despite ranking in the global top 10 for GDP, France is only 22nd in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index, whereas Croatia is 74th out of 137 countries measured.

France’s relative competitive weaknesses are connected to many of its rigid labour market regulations and a perceived lack of ability to attract talent. Clearly, that’s something that hasn’t been apparent on the pitch so far during the World Cup this year. As both a much younger democracy and economy, Croatia has — like many former Soviet countries — had to dismantle many of its former institutions and adapt to a more market-oriented model. Consequently, in fields such as innovation and the maturity of its financial markets there is still work to be done.

Croatia’s global competitiveness performance

Gender equality

France is the clear winner here, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report. Ranked 11th out of 144 countries on their progress toward parity, France scores highly for educational attainment and political empowerment, making the most progress towards gender parity of any of the G20 group of countries.

Croatia ranks 54th out of 144. While it is broadly aligned with average performances for balanced access to healthcare, educational attainment, and economic opportunities, Croatia scores less well when it comes to women’s involvement in political life.

Iceland tops the Gender Gap Report rankings for the ninth year in a row, but failed to make it out of the Group Stages of the World Cup, finishing bottom of Group D. The nation’s gender gap has narrowed rapidly since 2006, according to the Forum report, and the country is the top performer when it comes to political empowerment.

France v Croatia

Sustainable energy

France beats Croatia yet again when it comes to sustainable, affordable and secure energy systems, according to the Forum's Global Energy Architecture Performance Index (EAPI). Ranked 5th out of 127 countries, the widespread use of nuclear power in France (it makes up 75% of the country’s electricity supply) goes a long way to explaining this strong performance.

Furthermore, because the cost of generating electricity is low, France is the world’s largest net exporter of electricity, which contributes over 3 billion euros annually to the economy. The nation aims to diversify away from nuclear, and is aiming to expand renewable energy sources to account for 32% of consumption by 2030, according to the Forum report.

Croatia ranks 18th overall, ahead of Germany at 19th, and showing strong performance over the period 2009-2017 — rising 12 places. Switzerland wears the crown in energy architecture performance terms, followed by the Scandinavian nations, Norway, Sweden, Denmark.

Image: EAPI 2017 summary data