Croatia are pondering what might have been after missing out on the opportunity to clinch their maiden World Cup title. The Croats qualified for the grand finale of the greatest show on earth in Russia, following some spirited performances, but eventually fell short against a dynamic French side Sunday at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow.
France proved to be too good as they lifted their second World Cup, after their triumph at home 20 years ago.
The 4-2 scoreline perhaps did not do justice to Croatia, who dominated possession for large parts of the final, and scripted several attacks and counter-attacks throughout the game. France however, turned out to be more clinical in the decisive moments and this was not lost on Croatia’s talismanic captain Luka Modric, who was named player of the tournament.
Following the game, the disappointed Vatreni players, with the runners-up medal hanging around their necks, were the first to depart the stadium, their heads expectedly down after the defeat. Most of the Croatian players didn’t stay at the mixed zone for a long time as most of them made their way to the team bus.
"We can be proud. We know we did something big here."@FIFAWorldCupCRO spoke with adidas Golden Ball Award winner & #CRO captain @lukamodric10 after #WorldCupFinal— FIFA World Cup (@FIFAWorldCup) July 16, 2018
But Real Madrid superstar Modric did speak to the media and he was effusive in his praise of the Les Blues.
“Actually, France played really well. They were ahead of us. Somewhere along the line we fell short. We weren’t able to fully express ourselves in the second half. France made some brilliant attacks at that time. If we had given a better account of ourselves in the second half, then the result could have been different,” said a dejected Modric.
“We did not play all that bad. France were ahead of us in terms of skills. That proved to be our downfall. Otherwise, we also had our possibilities.”
Croatia’s semi-final hero Mario Mandzukic echoed a similar sentiment to that of Modric, but was having a hard time personally as he conceded an own goal in the early stage of the game.
“I don’t know, maybe France became confident after my mistake. I am feeling very bad. But this is football. We played really well in the tournament. The final could have gone better for us. Congratulations to France. They played outstandingly well. They deservedly won the title,” said a disappointed Mandzukic.
Like Modric and Mandzukic, goalkeeper Danijel Subasic was finding it difficult coming to terms with the defeat, and was virtually lost for words while talking to the media.
“Like the others, I too am sad. Everyone is pondering what might have been. I don’t know what they’re thinking right now. We tried. We even came back to the game. Now, we must return home. We need a lot of rest. I am really proud of my team mates,” said the Monaco custodian.