Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic insisted that it is Croatia’s chance to settle a 20-year old score against France as they meet Les Blues in the Final of the World Cup 2018 after beating England 2-1 in their semi-final tie.
Croatia made an incredible come-back against England—a game where the Croats conceded in the opening 5 minutes of the match. A 68th minute equalizer from Ivan Perisic’s boot followed by a late winner from Mario Mandzukic completed their come-back as Croatia won 2-1 against the Three Lions to secure a place in the final of the World Cup for the first time.
Croatia will now play France in the Sunday’s Final, battling it out to achieve the ultimate glory.
Croatia have taken a step further in this World Cup than the 1998 heroes, who lost to the host France in the last-four 20 years ago. It was France that ended the nation’s previous run at the showpiece tournament, winning their 1998 semi-final 2-1 before going on to claim the title.
According to a report from Goal.com, Dalic said that the 2018 World Cup Final to be an opportunity for Croatia to avenge the defeat of 20 years ago and ‘settle the score’.
“In 1998, I was in France for the first three games as a supporter. I had to go back [to Hajduk Split] for pre-season for the last games,” Dalic said.
“Of course, everybody in Croatia remembers [Lilian] Thuram, the 2-1. This has been the discussion for the last 20 years.
“Maybe this game has a historic significance. The chance to settle a score. Both teams have shown their qualities and are deserved finalists.
“This is football, what we have to do is focus on preparing the best game in the tournament in the final.” Dalic added.
Dalic praised his side’s strong character and hailed their not giving up attitude as Croatia came back from being 1-0 down to win the match for the third time in a row in this competition.
“I insisted that I cannot teach these players football, they play fantastic football already. I am in charge of some other things. This is what they have accepted,” he said.
“Initially, on their part there was not full trust and confidence but as the tournament progressed they have gained confidence. They are stronger in terms of mentality, strength.
“I said this tournament would be won by teams with character who execute on the pitch as their coach shows them. We were 1-0 down in three games in a row and we overtook all these. We have done that today in extra time.
“On top of all the football qualities, they have shown character. We are a nation of people who are proud, never give in and have character.” concluded a very pleased and proud coach Dalic.