‘This is the biggest game of our life’

Croatia’s path to the World Cup final has not been easy with the team needing to dig deep to overcome gritty opponents in each of its three knockout games.

The Central European nation benefits from the services of the two of the best contemporary mid-fielders in the world — Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic — playing for the two biggest clubs and arch-rivals, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Rakitic, who represents the Catalan giant in the
El Clasico
in Spain, spoke to the media ahead of the young country’s first World Cup final.

On picking Croatia over Switzerland

When I decided to play Croatia I followed my dreams. It is great to be a Croat right now.

Energy to play 70+ games a season

There will be excess energy. This is a historic game. Not just for us but for every Croat. There will be 4.5 million Croats on the pitch. This is the biggest game of our lives.

The importance of the game to Croatia

You only have to look at the footage coming from there. There is joy that cannot be described in words. That joy, unity and pride is incredible. This is much more than just about the players.

Revenge on France for the 1998 semifinal loss

It is in the past. They won the tournament and they deserved it. We want to win on Sunday.

Assessment of France

We have to analyse them. We have to put a stop to their game. We have to play as well as we can. We have the greatest possible respect for them. We will push them to play our game.

About worldwide support

Hundreds of millions of people around the world will support us. Many people told me that they celebrated the goal [against England] like it was a goal scored by their own country. I hope we will make the world happy.

On Serbian Novak Djokovic’s support for Croatia

I support him at Wimbledon. We are human beings first and foremost. We have to put our history behind us. Djokovic is a great athlete and a fantastic person and we met in Miami. I hope on Sunday we can celebrate together.

Modric the Player of the World Cup

First of all the player of the tournament has to be a Croat. I am sure FIFA will listen and our captain is more than deserving of it. Journalists have a say. Luka doesn’t want any of that though. We want to just win the title.

Playing against Barcelona teammates

I talked to (Samuel) Umtiti briefly. We wished each other the best of luck. We are all friends and I want all the best for them. But that is impossible in this match.

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