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 midfielders in the world – Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic – playing for the two biggest clubs and archrivals 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 for 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 4.5million Croats on the pitch. This is the biggest game of our lives.
Perfect place for a World Cup tattoo
On my forehead, but I have to ask my wife for permission first.
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.
His lessons as an architect
I started to study it. I worked for an office that builds stadiums in Munich and Beijing. But I had to stop. Everything you learn can be something you can use.
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