Coach Zlatko Dalic said that the World Cup final will produce “a seismic event” back home in Croatia regardless of the result against France, ESPN quotes.
Croatia have reached the final of a major tournament for the first time in their team’s 26-year history, and Dalic said that while he did not know how fans would be celebrating, he knew everyone will be excited.
“Win or lose tomorrow, there will be a seismic event,” Dalic said in a news conference on Saturday. “This gives us strength and motivation.
“There can be no better moment for a player or a coach than tomorrow. Whatever happens, we will be happy and proud because we deserved it.”
Midfielder Ivan Rakitic said on Friday that there “will be 4.5 million players on the pitch” against France, alluding to Croatia’s population and the pride the players will feel for their country.
Dalic will not have that many players to choose from, but did say that he has no major injury concerns despite playing three consecutive 120-minute knockout-round games.
“Tomorrow is the World Cup final,” Dalic said. “The players know what that means. One thing that makes me happy is that all my players tell me whether they are not 100 percent, [and] if they will be unable to give their all during the match, I expect them to tell us.”
Because of the strain of previous games, and in part because they had one fewer day after their semifinal victory than France, Dalic did not want to exert his players in the days leading up to the final at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium.
“We did not insist on practice sessions,” Dalic said. “We have nothing to practice. We need relaxation and rest. We have some minor injuries but I hope we will overcome those today and all my players will be ready to play.
“We created such a group where they will concede and will say, ‘I have to miss the final’ [if they are not fit]. If they are not ready, we have great players on the bench who are rearing to go.”
Croatia lost to France in the semifinals and finished third in 1998, their first appearance in the World Cup, and had not since advanced beyond the group stage until winning Group D last month.
But that result, and Croatia’s failure to beat the French in all of their five previous encounters, means nothing to Dalic.
“I do not give much thought to statistics and tradition and to head-to-head,” Dalic said. “Traditions are there to be demolished.
“Tomorrow is the final. We don’t care who is on the other side of the pitch. We are here to enjoy the final and give our best.”