With Croatia through to the final, Luka Modric has become the 2/1 second favourite to win the World Cup 2018 Golden Ball. Only French teenager Kylian Mbappe has shorter odds heading into their showdown at the Luzhniki Stadium.

Mbappe has sparkled during the World Cup in Russia – boasting sensational performances against Argentina in the round of 16 (scoring a brace) and against Belgium in the semi-final, where his sublime skills and party tricks were on show.

It’s no surprise he’s the favourite to win the Golden Ball, but the match-winning efforts of Modric have not gone unnoticed.

Luka Modric World Cup 2018 Golden Ball – reasons to believe

The creative midfielder, who has been deployed in a more advanced position by manager Zlatko Dalic since he took over in October 2017, has been stellar on Croatia’s route to the final.

Luka Modric - World Cup 2018 Golden Ball hopeful's manager

Where it all began: Zlatko Dalic won his first game in charge 2-0 against Ukraine

The Real Madrid playmaker has received three Man of the Match awards in five starts at the World Cup – coming against the 2014 finalists Argentina, Nigeria and the hosts Russia in a thrilling quarter-final.

Only striker Harry Kane has received as many during the tournament.

To emphasise the difference in class, the England captain was a passenger in a semi-final that Modric dominated – despite playing more minutes (604) than anyone else at this World Cup, at the age of 32.

Don’t think that Croatia have to go all the way in Russia for Modric to take home the World Cup 2018 Golden Ball. Four of the last five winners played for a team that lost in the final.

Whether this is a way of the judges supplying the best loser with the ultimate consolation we’ll never know, but with France the 10/11 favourites in the World Cup Final 2018 betting, recent history suggests a Croatian will be awarded the best player prize should they lose.

Croatia vs France will be a fascinating encounter. Another Frenchman in contention to take home the Golden Ball is 9/1 Antoine Griezmann, who is also a 40/1 longshot for the Golden Boot.

Modric has only scored two goals in Russia, surprisingly assisting one fewer, but his overall contribution will be considered for the Player of the Tournament accolade, especially when the goal-getters have the Golden Boot to compete for.

This century has seen the creators (Zinedine Zidane and Lionel Messi) and even a goalkeeper in Oliver Kahn receive the spherical trophy – giving Modric and punters alike a confidence boost that the Croatian pass-master can come away with the World Cup 2018 Golden Ball.