Croatia, whose previous tournament best was third place in 1998, will aim to win their first-ever World Cup in their maiden final appearance at the expense of France at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Sunday (15th July).
The atmosphere in Zagreb started to build on Saturday (14th July) with Croatia Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic among those who had gathered in the city centre.
“They (Croatian team) deserve to do the maximum to attain what for our nation of only four million people would be a miraculous success and we are all behind them”, said Plenkovic “we of course are looking for a victory. I said on many occasions it just takes to score one goal more, and I hope it will be one of our players to do it.”
Zlatko Dalic’s Croatia eased through the group stages with three wins from three, but needed penalty shootout victories to defeat Denmark and hosts Russia, and extra time to overcome England in the semi-finals.
Croatia have never beaten France in five previous meetings with three defeats – the last of which dates back to 2000 – and two draws at Euro 2004 and a friendly in 2011.
The Eastern European nation will start as underdogs against France, but Croatia fans remain optimistic.
“What does it mean? You cannot describe it. I think no one in Croatia, no fan can describe this, it is marvellous. Who knows if we ever going to experience something like this again in the future. Now we are here (in the final), and we are happy” said Croatia fan Igor Partolovic.
Another supporter, Ante Raspudic, added “one thing is for sure, our boys did win this World Cup, we are already winners. This last game I want them to play it for themselves. Until now, they have played for the people of Croatia. The result will come. I can say we will become World Cup winners.”