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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 22 August 2018

Hugo Lloris wants 'perfect match' from France against Croatia in World Cup final

Goalkeeper anxious he and his teammate take opportunity of success in Moscow after missing out in Euro 2016 

France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in training on Saturday ahead of the World Cup final. AP Photo
France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in training on Saturday ahead of the World Cup final. AP Photo

Against the backdrop of an apparent euphoria back home, France have strived to remain in their World Cup “bubble”, captain Hugo Lloris has said.

Didier Deschamps’ side face Croatia on Sunday in the final at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, where the current French team will seek to emulate their predecessors of 1998.

France clinched their only World Cup to date 20 years ago on home soil, and expectations within the country are that they will soon capture a second. In contrast, Croatia are contesting a first major final.

Yet Lloris insisted in the pre-match media briefing on Saturday that his team are not getting carried away by their fans’ optimism - especially given the talent of their relentless opponents.

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“To be honest, we are in our little bubble,” the Tottenham Hotspur goalkeeper said. “Of course, we do know what is happening in France; we saw the images following the [semi-final] against Belgium.

"But we are far from thinking we have reached our goal. We are going to face a high-quality opponent and they deserve as much credit as we do because they also reached the final.

“That team has demonstrated its values, its physical qualifies, its mental qualities, which are quite incredible. They have shown that throughout the tournament. They have managed to qualify after extra-time three times in a row, so it shows there is something special in this team.

“We need to perform at a very high level and play a perfect match to win tomorrow. So once again we are going to need a great French team to win.”

Yet to be pushed to extra-time in any of their matches in Russia, France are contesting their third World Cup final after victory against Brazil in 1998 - Deschamps was captain then - and defeat to Italy in 2006. Two years ago, they reached the European Championship final at home, but lost 1-0 to Portugal.

Two years ago, they reached the European Championship final at home, but lost 1-0 to Portugal.

“The majority of players were not present during the Euros in France,” said Lloris, one of nine players in the France squad involved two years ago. “But for those who were, yes it was difficult to digest. But that is football.

“Two years ago I don’t know if we were aware we would have the second possibility to represent football for our country. We owe it to ourselves.

"We’ve given all the effort we could. We have the opportunity to play the World Cup final; we need to grab this opportunity, have as few regrets as possible and give everything we have.

“Our team is quite calm. Since the beginning of the tournament I don’t think we’ve really realised how far we've come and the path we have followed. But it is better that way. We also have this inner strength inside our team from the beginning.

“It gives us strength to go over any obstacles. Tomorrow will most certainly be the most important match of our career. It will be a special match because it is a World Cup final. We have to stay in our bubble. We have to stay focused on the ultimate goal.”

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