Jaded Croatia Look to Master Modric To Carry Them Through Against England

Ross Houston
July 11, 2018

"Of course, I am rooting for Croatia and want Team Croatia to advance".

"When I say that we are not a footballing nation, I do it so that we can figure out why", Slutsky, who coached Russian Federation at the Euro 2016, clarified days later in a television programme.

"Luka and Rakitic are the best midfield pair in the World Cup", said Bilic.

"When I played we beat Germany 3-0 at the 1998 World Cup (in the quarter-finals)".

"It's the tighter, uglier games that have been our downfall".

After a dramatic win on penalties against Russia, Croatia will play England on Wednesday night (AEST) in front of 80,000 people in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium for a place in the World Cup final.

"So we feared the worst in a penalty shootout against Denmark".

Russia's team coach Stanislav Cherchesov told a television chat show on Monday that he would also no longer be following the tournament, but would support Belgium, as he was friendly with the team's coach.

"But don't underestimate the rest of the team either".

The Croatians looked more comfortable from the spot, netting four of their five attempts with midfielder Ivan Rakitic firing home the decisive effort to put them into the semifinals, prompting tears from Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic. It is Russia's best performance in the World Cup since Soviet era.

Luka Modric, Domagoj Vida and Andrej Kramaric were among those leading the way as the squad headed back to their Radisson Blu Hotel base in Sochi.

Rooney, who was the leading goalscorer for England before announcing his retirement from the worldwide football in 2017, further added that he is enjoying the attention being given to the country in Russian Federation.

"Croatia will have to plan for that".

HNS also said that Vukojevic and Vida apologised for their statements, saying they were not meant to be political messages but "unfortunately left room for such interpretations".

That focus on collective success over individual achievement has been key to England's success this summer, putting them within touching distance of joining the heroes of 1966 as the only team to make a World Cup final.

Croatia lost out to hosts and eventual champions France in 1998 but finished third in the tournament with a victory over the Netherlands in their playoff.

Bilic was at the helm when Croatia were seconds away from the Euro 2008 semi-finals, only for Turkey to level and progress on penalties.

Two years ago they were knocked out of Euro 2016 after conceding a late goal in extra-time against Portugal.

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