Croatia coach, Zlatko Dalic, has declared that the final match against France in the 2018 FIFA World Cup will be like playing the first game of the Mundial.
Dalic, who praised his sides for their resilience and show of character to beat England 2-1 on Wednesday at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow, also admitted that the final will be an interesting game of football.
Mario Mandzukic scored the winning goal in the 109th minute of the semi-final, slotting in from Ivan Perisic’s flick-on into the area.
“We have to play as if this was the first game in this tournament,” Dalic said after the game.
“We are not going to for any excuses in the final. Someone said somewhere that we only prepared for the group stage which is just a strange thing to say.
“We did our preparation for the final, we have reached the final and we want to play the final.”
The coach, however, said playing extra time in three straight matches is not an excuse for his side not to perform well on Sunday.
“The extra time may be a problem because France had only played one but there are no excuses for us to think like that, that we played three times of 120 minutes or we had a little bit of time to recover,” he said.
“We are going to face another daunting task against France. It’s going to be a fantastic match and we are ready for it. I think everybody will enjoy watching the match and I have huge respect for France.”
Croatia are now the first team to come from behind in three straight knockout stage matches to advance at the World Cup.
The game against France will a re-match of the 1998 semi-final in Saint-Denis, 20 years and one week later. France won that game 2-1.