Who has racked up the most minutes on the pitch ahead of Croatia v France in World Cup final?

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Croatia superstar Luka Modric is one of the greatest players in the world, using his vision and nimble footwork to dissect opposition defence’s with ease.

The 32-year-old is the alpha male when it comes to racking up most minutes of any player in the World Cup with a lung busting 604 minutes across the six matches.

The Real Madrid man has amassed 41 more minutes than the next player in the tournament, centre back Dejan Lovren with 561 minutes. The 29-year-old, like his team-mate, has played every minute of action apart from restricted game time during the facile 2-1 win over Iceland.

Of course, given Croatia have played three matches that have gone to extra-time, each of their players will have recorded more minutes than their World Cup final opponents France.

But the interesting statistic with Didier Deschamps’ side is, of his back four, each has played the full 90 minutes in five of the six matches, showing a solid and reliable presence at the rearguard.

For Les Bleus, Raphael Varane and N’Golo Kante top the minutes list with 540 from the six games, with Atletico Madrid’s Lucas Hernandez playing the third-most minutes on 499.

And ahead of Sunday’s final, here’s a look at the minutes racked up by both sets of squads.

CROATIA

Luka Modric – 604

Dejan Lovren – 561

Ivan Rakitic – 548

Ivan Perisic – 542

Danijel Subasic – 540

Domagoj Vida – 540

Mario Mandzukic – 519

Sime Vrsaljko – 517

Ante Rebic – 476

Ivan Strinic – 430

Marcelo Brozovic – 369

Andrej Kramaric – 313

Josip Pivaric – 200

Mateo Kovacic – 183

Vedran Corluka – 119

Milan Badelj – 103

Tin Jedvaj – 90

Lovre Kalinic – 90

Duje Caleta-Car – 90

Marko Pjaca – 73

Filip Bradaric – 25

Dominik Livakovic – 0

FRANCE

Raphael Varane – 540

N’Golo Kante – 540

Lucas Hernandez – 500

Antoine Griezmann – 481

Olivier Giroud – 465

Hugo Lloris – 450

Benjamin Pavard – 450

Samuel Umtiti – 450

Paul Pogba – 449

Kylian Mbappe – 444

Blaise Matuidi – 263

Corentin Tolisso – 178

Ousmane Dembele – 165

Steven N’Zonzi – 106

Steve Mandanda – 90

Djibril Sidibe – 90

Presnel Kimpembe – 90

Thomas Lemar – 90

Nabil Fekir – 60

Benjamin Mendy – 40

Florian Thauvin – 1

Adil Rami – 0

Alphonse Areola – 0

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Lukaku is focused on third-place, not Golden Boot insists Martinez

Rory Dollard 14/07/2018
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Belgium boss Roberto Martinez says beating England to third place at the World Cup means more to Romelu Lukaku than pipping Harry Kane to the Golden Boot.

The England captain tops the tournament scoring charts with six goals, two ahead of Lukaku, and the pair are likely to go head to head in Saturday’s third-place play-off in Saint Petersburg.

That is likely to provide one of the sub-plots in a fixture neither side wanted to be playing, but Martinez insists taking a podium place is more important than personal accolades.

“Romelu is here to help the team perform, not for individual awards,” said the Spaniard, who was celebrating his 45th birthday.

“We don’t look at that sort of reward and Romelu is the first to show that with his play. We had a moment against Japan where Romelu has the ball in the box, the last second of the game.

Roberto Martinez, Head coach of Belgium

“Any striker that thinks he has 50 per cent chance of a goal takes that, but he made one of the best assists in the tournament.

“Other awards are more interesting to us. To be able to finish third, the best finish for the Belgian national team, would be an achievement we salute more than individual awards.”

Martinez has history with the striker, first coaching him as a teenager with Everton, and has marvelled at the player he has become.

“If you ask me ‘is he the best in the world?’, yes,” he said.

“But I am biased. I worked first with him when he was 19 and I’ve seen an incredible, incredible journey in his career.

“His numbers throughout his career are very difficult (to achieve). His biggest attribute is he is a goalscorer and a finisher.”

Martinez led his side to victory over England when the teams met in the group stage but has noted the positive changes in a country where he spent the majority of his playing and coaching career.

“It’s fair to say English football has had a real feeling of being able to achieve now,” he said.

“St George’s Park has brought that, it is a place of debate, a tactical floor, a place for sharing ideas. With the success of their under-17s and under-20s you could easily see English football at international level has been changing these last few seasons.”

Martinez was invited by a Belgian journalist to guarantee he would still be with the side in two years’ time.

He responded: “No, I can’t. In this business lose two games and you want to get me out. How can I guarantee that?”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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England boss Gareth Southgate keen to make 'as few changes as possible' for Belgium game

Andy Hampson 13/07/2018
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England manager Gareth Southgate intends to keep changes to a minimum as his side take on Belgium in the World Cup‘s third-place play-off.

It has been suggested Southgate could radically alter his team to give some of his fringe players a run-out as England bow out in Russia in the bronze-medal match in St Petersburg.

But while Southgate will assess the fitness levels of his players, he does not want to deviate too far from what has become a settled line-up.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Southgate said: “We have to decide who can go again physically. Everyone wants to play but sometimes it is not a good decision to play someone if their energy is not quite there.

“We have to think who can give us the best performance. It won’t be the same XI but, ideally, we want to make as few changes as possible.”

Southgate admits it has been tough to come to terms with Wednesday’s semi-final heartbreak at the hands of Croatia but he insists motivation will not be a problem this weekend.

He said: “Emotionally it has been a difficult few days but the players are incredible. They are a pleasure to work with. They have an energy and desire.

“We want to finish the tournament well. We have set a standard of how we work and how we play and we want to aspire to that level every time we go out.

“We have high motivation to perform. We have a chance to win a medal at a World Cup, which only one other English team has ever done.

“There is a lot of motivation for us and Belgium have already beaten us, so we would like to address that as well.”

England’s hopes of winning a first World Cup since 1966 may be over but Southgate is pleased with the progress that has been made. He feels the team has not only improved on the field but perceptions of the national side at home have also been changed.

He said: “If we want to play for England we have to deal with expectation. We have raised expectation and I don’t have a problem with that because we have also raised belief in the players.a 

“And they now see playing for England as enjoyment, fun and not feeling under siege. There is an energy and connection back.”

England captain Harry Kane did not feature in England’s loss to Belgium in the group stages but he will go into the game looking to add to the tournament-leading six goals he has already scored.

Southgate said: “We have a captain whose first thought all tournament has been how can he help the team to progress.

“He was was totally on board with us not playing him in the first game against Belgium. It would be more powerful for him to win the Golden Boot having made that sacrifice.”

England will make a low-key return home on Sunday, with no team parade planned.

Southgate said: “It was not my decision but I agree with the decision. If we make the final maybe it is different. If we have a parade that would have been in one part of the country and we represent the whole country.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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