Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic insists fatigue will not be crucial factor in World Cup final

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Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic is unconcerned by the extra minutes played by his team ahead of the World Cup final against France.

Croatia needed extra-time and penalties to beat both Denmark and Russia, while Mario Mandzukic’s extra-time winner gave them victory over England in the semi-final.

By contrast, France advanced through the knockout stages with victories over Argentina, Uruguay and Belgium all in normal time.

Dalic told a press conference: “Tomorrow is the World Cup final. Simply the players know what that is. One thing that brings me happiness is that all my players tell whether they are not 100 per cent fit.

“We have a such a good relationship that they will concede and say that I am not fit, I’m going to miss the final.

“They know what is at stake in the final, how great it is to play in the final. But if they will be unable to give their all, they will tell us.

“I expect them to do so, they need to have such an attitude.”

Dalic knows his players now need to rest before Sunday’s final.

He said: “We do not insist on practice sessions. We have nothing to practise. We need relaxation and rest to regain freshness for tomorrow. We have some minor injuries, minor problems.

“I hope we will overcome those today and that all my players will be ready to play in the final. If they’re not we have great players on the bench who are raring to go.

“I’m not worried. I do not have any problems in that respect.”

Dalic revealed his team are being driven on by the support back home in Croatia and regardless of the result their run to the final will be a joyous occasion.

Dalic said: “We are only able to see a small portion of what is going on back home. We can’t be more joyous and proud when we see what joy we have brought to the country.

“Win or lose tomorrow there will be a seismic event and this brings us strength and motivation.

“One of our main motivators are our fans and the people back home. Hopefully there will be four million people out in the streets celebrating. Maybe they will go one over Argentina and Brazil in terms of celebrations.”

Captain Luka Modric insists they will put all emotions to one side to fully concentrate on the job in hand.

He said “We have to focus on the game. We have to leave emotions aside and give more than we’ve given on the pitch in the previous matches because it’s the cup final. We want to make everyone happy.

“We do not have any special rituals before a game. Everyone prepares in their own way individually. Just because this is a huge game we should not change anything.

“We need to be relaxed, prepare in the same way we prepared for the other games.

“We will just continue the way we have prepared before. “

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VAR at World Cup has been extremely positive, says Gianni Infantino

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The introduction of video assistant referees has “finished” the debate about offside goals in football, FIFA president Gianni Infantino has claimed.

The use of video replays for the first time at a World Cup has been one of the stories of Russia 2018, although, as Infantino pointed out in Moscow on Friday, the torrent of stories about VAR in the opening weeks of the tournament has reduced to a trickle.

“That means it’s accepted, it’s working well,” said Infantino.

“The results – and I am speaking about facts, not words, feeling or perceptions – are extremely clear and positive,” he said.

“There have been over 400 incidents checked in the 62 games so far here, with 19 on-field reviews, so one every three or so games.

“Sixteen decisions have been changed from wrong to right. Now when you check the word progress in a dictionary it means ‘make things better’ – that is VAR. It’s not changing football, it’s making it better, cleaner.”

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Antoine Griezmann not bothered how France play as long as they win World Cup

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Antoine Griezmann has hit back at criticism of France playing “anti-football” under Didier Deschamps and insists it does not matter how Les Bleus go about trying to beat Croatia in the World Cup final on Sunday.

Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois and captain Eden Hazard both lamented the way France approached their semi-final in St Petersburg.

Atletico Madrid forward Griezmann, however, maintains France will do whatever it takes to lift the World Cup for a second time in Moscow on Sunday.

“Thibaut Courtois, he played at Atletico, he was a Spanish champion. With Chelsea, does he believe he is playing the football of Barcelona?” Griezmann said.

“I don’t care how. I want a second star to be on this shirt, and if I have the star, I do not care about the game we have done.”

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