Jaded Croatia look to master Modric to carry them through against England

Tuesday, 10 Jul, 2018

"We have been briefed in detail about them and how they play, and I know them personally".

That mattered little though for battling coach Stanislav Cherchesov who assembled a team that defied all forecasts and made the home nation proud.

"He's worked very hard to get to this point, he's our captain and leader and if the team manages a great result and he gets the Golden Ball, he would deserve it".

Croatia has reached the final four on one previous occasion, at the 1998 World Cup in France.

The first shootout of the tournament saw hosts Russian Federation knock out 2010 champions Spain, after Andres Iniesta scored the first penalty with his last kick in global football.

And so in England, 1966 seems but yesterday and the names of World Cup winners Bobby Moore or Geoff Hurst are present in English hearts and minds.

Fourteen members of their squad are based in Europe's top five leagues - England, Spain, Italy, Germany and France - including Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic at Real Madrid, Ivan Rakitic at Barcelona and Mario Mandzukic at Juventus. "We were lucky. I was concentrating throughout the match, but after that penalty, it came bursting out of me".

"They have been playing at an extremely high level for their clubs".

According to the Rome-based publication Inter and Atletico have agreed to meet soon to discuss the 26 year-old, who is now representing Croatia at the FIFA World Cup in Russian Federation and would reportedly be happy to join the Nerazzurri - however no date has been stabilised for the summit yet.

There's also some concern about goalkeeper Danijel Subasic after he required treatment late in the second half and during any breaks through extra time and the shootout after appearing to injure his right hamstring.

President Vladimir Putin did not attend the game, but watched remotely, saying the players were heroes despite the defeat and the country was proud of them.

Yes, Croatia may have one of the best individual players in the tournament with what Luka Modric has done in matching the deepest run ever by the country. The die-hard football fanatic had earlier met the (former) Argentinan team in the United States, former French great Robert Pires, Brazilian footballer Kaka and he feels blessed. "But thank God we've shown our character".

"It's so special to do something with the national team", said Mandzukic.

The reward for eliminating the hosts is a glamorous tie against England in Moscow on Wednesday and Dalic believes his team is well equipped to stop Harry Kane.