Published: Sun, July 15, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

World Cup final is route to redemption for scandal-hit Croatia

World Cup final is route to redemption for scandal-hit Croatia

Modric is metronomic, Mbappe works in bursts. Dinamo won 19 of the 27 titles since Croatian independence so far, including 12 of the last 13 seasons. The French defeated Croatia in the semifinals that year, which until now had been the country's best showing at the tournament.

Milutinović led five national teams to five consecutive World Cups (Mexico 1986, Costa Rica 1990, U.S. 1994, Nigeria 1998 and China 2002).

Croatia feverishly prepared Saturday for its first ever World Cup final as the small Balkan nation swells with pride at its team's performance and firmly believes they can win against France. It was a high-profile affair given that Mamic was among the most powerful men in Croatian soccer and had extensive ties to its president and other top political officials.

The 32-year-old star scored two goals and had one assist in the World Cup.

"I'm really focused on my national team", Modric said. "Not only in Croatia, I had a feeling that many others have also identified with our success".

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Croatia, a country of 4.5 million people which gained independence from the former Yugoslavia only 27 years ago, enters the final after playing three straight extra-time matches, including two nerve-racking penalty shootouts. The Real Madrid orchestrator-in-chief has known no bounds in Russian Federation, covering a colossal 63 kilometres so far in the tournament - more than any other player.

One of the key components in the Croatia midfield, Brozovic provides that defensive protection that allows Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric scope to get forward and utilise their passing ability to devastating effect.

"I don't like to go back to these things".

For Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić, there is no doubt who should win the prize.

Size has not stopped Modric from covering more distance than any player at the World Cup, registering 63.03 kilometers (39 miles) in six games, according to Federation Internationale de Football Association.

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