Croatia midfielder Ivan Rakitic insisted fatigue will not be an issue for the biggest game of his career despite being pushed to three periods of extra-time to make Sunday’s World Cup final.
Barcelona’s Rakitic will make his 71st appearance of the season against France in Moscow after winning a La Liga and Copa del Rey double with the Catalans, more than any player at the World Cup. “There will be excess power and energy, no worries about that,” Rakitic said on Friday. Croatia have played 90 more minutes and had a day’s less rest than the French ahead of the final.
But Rakitic believes the pride of representing the smallest country to make the World Cup final in 68 years, with a population of just over four million, will motivate Croatia to create history. “This is a historic game for not just us, for everybody who is a Croat. There are 4.5 million players on the pitch,” added Rakitic.
“We will carry one another, we will have the energy, we know this is the biggest game of our lives. We want to leave the pitch with our heads held high. We just need a little bit of luck to get the result.”
Ivan Perisic, who scored his side’s equaliser and set up Mario Mandzukic’s winner against England on Wednesday, is nursing a thigh injury. Perisic missed training on Friday along with Ivan Strinic, Dejan Lovren, Sime Vrsaljko and Danijel Subasic.