WORLD CUP: ‘No one would give in’ for tired Croatia

SAINT PETERSBURG — France doesn’t just have the benefit of an extra day’s rest.

Ahead of Sunday’s World Cup final, Les Bleus know they’ll meet a Croatian side that has played three consecutive extra-time games en route to the final.

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“What our players did today, the strength they’ve shown, the stamina, the energy levels …” Croatian coach Zlatko Dalic said.

“I wanted to substitute, but nobody wanted to be subbed.”

Dalic didn’t make Croatia’s first change until the 95th minute, when he replaced Ivan Strinic with Josip Pivaric. This despite having a number of players carrying injuries.

“Everybody kept telling me, ‘I’m ready. I can run on,’” Dalic added.

“I have to tip my hat to our physios, our doctors, our medical staff for their efforts.”

Croatia also was dealing with serious injury concerns entering a World Cup semifinal against a fully fit England side.

Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic injured his hamstring in a quarterfinal win over Russia and Sime Vrsaljko was injured in the same match.

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Both started Wednesday in Moscow.

“Some players played with minor injuries with which they would not have played other matches,” Dalic explains.

“Two players played with half a leg. Nobody wanted to give in. Nobody wanted to say I’m not ready. In extra time nobody wanted to be subbed.

“This shows character. This is what makes me proud and glad.”

They’re set to meet a French side that’s fully healthy after more or less strolling through the knockout phase of this tournament.

Croatia, meanwhile, has played an extra game given the three 30-minute extra times they’ve participated in.

Source:: Toronto Sun – Movies