We lacked luck that we had throughout the tournament, says Dalic

The manager harnessing all the natural talent available in his team is still proud of the achievements of his players.

It was a night of pain and agony for Croatia as it stopped one short of the World Cup crown. The team that had defied odds to reach the final was ultimately left undone as some vital moments of the game played out in its opponent’s favour. Or at least so coach Zlatko Dalic thought.

“Congratulations to France for their title,” he said. “We played well in the first 20 minutes and then there was this own goal from set play. We came to life and dominated and then the penalty came. In a World cup final you don’t give such penalty. But that does not diminish France’s game.”

Elaborating further, he added: “We lacked the luck that we had throughout the tournament. The first two goals went against us as we conceded twice from set pieces. It’s difficult for players to find the energy to get back every time. It’s difficult to come back against such a good France side.”

The manager, who had shaped a formidable side, harnessing all the natural talent available in his team is still proud of the achievements of his players, whose performance has championed the cause of a small nation.

“We were all sad and downcast after the game ended. But, I told them to hold their heads high and be proud of their display. Sometimes in football you lose, but you need to be dignified in defeat too,” the coach said. “The message in our team bus reads ‘A small country with big dreams’. You have to belief its possible and then many thing need to fall in place. You need an ambition and dream and then the drive to follow it. Maybe in one day if will come true, much like it did for us. In football and life you should never give up. When it was 4-1, I was not out, not defeated. And Croatia has shown that any team can achieve their dreams whether big or small.

Praising the role played by the team’s captain Luka Modric, who was adjudged the best player of the tournament, Dalic said: “We are glad for Luka to win the Golden Ball as he played a terrific tournament. He did lions share of the work in our play and it’s also a compliment for the team as it supported him.”

Really united group, says Griezmann

Antoine Griezmann still drenched in the confetti, champagne and the rain that accompanied France’s World Cup trophy presentation, gave a glowing account of the team’s unity, despite different racial and cultural backgrounds, as the reason behind the team’s success in adding a second star to its lapel.

“I am very proud of this team and the entire support staff. We were a really united group and that strength helped us to make history. We are going to party with family and friends and tomorrow we will party with the French people,” Griezmann, who scored the second goal of the match, said. “There are (people of) different origins (in France) but we are united and that’s the France we love. It’s the same for the team. We are from different backgrounds but as soon as we wear the jersey we play for each other and the nation.”

Not ready to be drawn in the Ballon d’Or debate, which has been a duopoly of Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi since 2007, the Atletico Madrid striker said: “People are voting for Ballon D’Or still and let’s see what happens. I want to win the European Cup with my club but at the moment and the rest is not in my hands.”

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