Moscow (dpa) – Croatia players enjoyed a day off Thursday and the team's fitness state will be assessed Friday for the upcoming World Cup final against France, coach Zlatko Dalic has said. Dalic said none of his players are injured but that the third straight extra-time game Wednesday against England, a 2-1 semi-final win, has taken its toll.
“They are fine. They were tired, exhausted but overjoyed. Tomorrow we will assess them,” he told reporters at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium where the final will be played Sunday. “We have a day off, they are doing exercises, swimming. We hope everything will be fine. They haven't seen their families in 15 days. I don't inspect what they are doing.”
Dalic readily admitted that France “will be our toughest opponent and game” but that there will be no excuses from their side even though Croatia are “the only team which played eight matches” as the three extra-times added up to 90 minutes or one full game. France by comparison won all their three knock-out games in 90 minutes and have an additional day of rest, having won their semi-final on Tuesday, 1-0 against Belgium.
“It is extremely hard and so much effort but it seems the harder the circumstances the better we play,” Dalic said. “I am not afraid of Sunday. We will rest and recover. There are no excuses, it is the World Cup final. We will give our all. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play a World Cup final. We will find the energy, strength and motivation to do well.”