Croatia captain Luka Modric believes his side were the better team in the World Cup final against France, but admitted: “Sometimes the better teams don’t win.”
Like Oliver Kahn, Zinedine Zidane and Lionel Messi before him, Modric lost the game but was then awarded the Golden Ball for being the tournament’s best player.
The 32-year-old midfield magician told reporters he was “proud to have received the award for myself” but wanted “to win a trophy with Croatia”.
France were comfortable 4-2 winners in the end, but were very fortunate to have a 2-1 lead at the interval and did not get on top of Croatia until Paul Pogba added a superb third in the 59th minute.
Asked if he thought Croatia had been unlucky, Modric said: “Yeah, I think so. Everyone has the same feeling that we played well.
“I think we were the better team but sometimes better teams don’t win.”
The Real Madrid star thought France’s controversial second goal in the 38th minute was “the turning point”, as they were in the ascendancy after Ivan Perisic’s fine strike had cancelled out Mario Mandzukic’s own goal.
France regained their lead when referee Nestor Pitana used an on-field video review to give them a penalty for a Perisic handball. The ball clearly struck his hand, and was stopped from crossing Croatia’s goalmouth, but he had no time to react when Blaise Matuidi missed an attempted flick-on from an Antoine Griezmann corner.
It looked harsh and Croatia’s players were incensed, with their moods not improved by Griezmann’s cool penalty.
“We were surprised when it was given, especially because the foul he gave for the first goal (which came when Mandzukic flicked Griezmann’s free-kick into his own net) wasn’t a foul in my opinion and then we recovered from that,” said Modric.
“We played well and played the best football and he gives a penalty to them. It kills you. It’s not easy to keep coming back.
“But we tried, we fought until the end and we have to be proud of what we did and how we played. But in the end it wasn’t enough to win it.”