Tiemoue Bakayoko is confident his country France can win their second World Cup and he expects his Chelsea team-mates N’Golo Kante and Olivier Giroud to play a crucial role in Moscow today.
Croatia stand between Les Bleus and a repeat of their triumph two decades ago, when our own Frank Leboeuf and Marcel Desailly featured as a side captained by Didier Deschamps brushed aside Brazil 3-0 in the Paris final.
Bakayoko expects it to be tighter than that today but he is predicting the same outcome based on the performances France have produced to get to this point.
‘The team have played very well,’ he tells the official Chelsea website.
‘I am happy for the French people and now I hope they win. We have a big team, and they have the chance to win this final. Croatia is a very good team, too, but I think France are the better team. I hope the whole of France is happy after the game!
‘It will be a tough game for France. It’s a final which makes it difficult to predict! I think the score will be 1-0 to France after extra-time.’
Another Chelsea Frenchman, Kurt Zouma, correctly predicted that his nation would beat Belgium 1-0 when we spoke to him ahead of the semi-final. It is only right he gets his chance to make it back-to-back right calls. ‘2-0 to France after 90 minutes,’ Kurt reckons this time.
Back to Baka. We ask him what he has made of his two club colleagues’ performances out in Russia, and if he has been in touch with them over the past few weeks.
‘They are playing very well. I have watched all the games, and I am so happy for N’Golo. He has had a very good competition. For me he has been the best midfielder at the tournament.
‘For Olivier, he has played every game. He is not lucky because he hasn’t scored yet, but I hope he scores in the final! He is very important to the style of our play.'
'I have wished Olivier and N’Golo good luck, and we are all hoping it won’t be like the final two years ago. I hope they win and they come back to play for Chelsea with a good mind.’
— Tiemoue Bakayoko
From speaking to Bakayoko about himself, it certainly seems that the 23-year-old is in a good place right now. His first year in England was affected by injury, but he still managed to make 43 appearances in all competitions, including the full 90 minutes in the FA Cup final.
On the anniversary of his signing for the club, it is a chance for him to reflect and also to look forward, with the start of the season not far away now.
‘During the summer I worked a lot because last season I didn’t have a pre-season, and I feel good for preparing for this season. I don’t have pain in my knee, I am feeling very fit, and I hope to keep going like this and do a better season than the last one.
‘I am happy to be here, to be in the best club for me in the world,' he continues.
'Last season was not the best for Chelsea, but I am sure this season we will be better and we will finish higher up the table. I am happy to live in England, I hope to stay here for a long time, and I just want to make the Chelsea fans and the club happy.’