Against all odds, Croatia suddenly find themselves in the Final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Prior to the tournament, Croatia were just 33/1 to lift football’s most prestigious prize, behind the likes of Colombia, Portugal, Argentina and others. In spite of it all, the Croatians will find themselves in the Final against France in Moscow on Sunday.

Several Croatian players said they have felt disrespected during their World Cup run and that the media haven’t given them enough credit. Captain Luka Modric said that the English press was particularly flippant regarding his team’s chances, but defender Dejan Lovren went a step further. 

After the Croatians’ 2-1 triumph over the Three Lions on Wednesday, Lovren said that he feels as though he has repeatedly proved critics wrong. He said, “It’s something special for me. From my point of view, people said I had a difficult season but I don’t agree. I took Liverpool to the final of the Champions League. Now, with my national team we are in the final. I think people should recognize that I am also one of the best defenders in the world and not just talk nonsense.”

Lovren has certainly been instrumental in Croatia’s success to this point. The central defender has formed a solid tandem with Domagoj Vida in the middle of the Croatian back line. Holding England to nothing more than a free kick goal over the course of 120 minutes was no small feat, to be sure. 

Croatia will once again have to beat the odds if they are to win on Sunday. France will enter the Final as massive favorites, but the Croats haven’t let the odds get in the way yet during their World Cup run. While most of the betting market will side with the French, has great UK gambling site recommendations, Croatia have shown that they can never truly be counted out.

Lovren, who plays his club football with Liverpool in the Premier League, has often been a target of critics since joining the Reds from Southampton in the summer of 2014. The veteran has made a number of high-profile gaffes along the way, though he did play much better once Liverpool paired him with Virgil Van Dijk in the centre of the defense in the second half of last season. 

Despite playing a solid individual game, Lovren wasn’t able to lift Liverpool to victory in the Champions League Final, where they were beaten 3-1 by Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Real Madrid. Lovren will be hoping to avoid similar fate with his national side teammates on Sunday when they take on a high-octane French attack led by Kylian Mbappe, Antoine Griezmann and others.

Lovren, who has played in all 6 of Croatia’s World Cup matches to this point, went on to say, “This is something we will never forget. People are crying. It’s something historical for us. We will never forget this.”

Croatia are set to appear in the World Cup Final for the first time ever. France, who last won a World Cup in 1998, will be playing in the Final for a third time.

Lovren added,”We beat our record from 20 years ago. We’ve had this weight on our shoulders all the time, and now people will never forget us. We have the chance to do something better, and hopefully we can do it on Sunday. It was tough first half. We couldn’t control the ball or control situations. They also had good chances, but second half we did much, much better. In extra time we showed we are still able with the fatigue to play our game.”

Croatia, who have managed to advance this far despite having played 3 consecutive extra time affairs, will be taking on a French side that hasn’t played beyond 90 minutes yet in this tournament.