Friday 14 December 2018

Dalic believes players have the energy for English 'battle'

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images
Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic Photo: Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

Jamie Holland

Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic insists his players have not run out of steam despite needing extra-time and penalties to beat Russia, having had to take the same tiring route to overcome Denmark in their previous match.

The Croats have just four days to prepare for Wednesday's semi-final against England, but Dalic does not fear fatigue being a factor for his players in Moscow.

"Of course there is some power left for the English," he told a post-match press conference.

"We do not want to stop. We will try to play our best game. We have two matches to play and we are very motivated.

"We're giving our all. It will be a battle again but I trust us. I have belief in us."

Dalic admired the way England handled their business in the 2-0 success over the Swedes.

"England breezed past Sweden. They scored twice and were better. They have a young, alive, attacking team.

"But there are no favourites in this World Cup - every game is 50-50 and you have to fight it out. The big teams are home.

"Those who are hard-working, compact, united, well-organised, they are here in Russia. This is the character of the four teams remaining in the tournament."

Luka Modric suggested there was "maybe a bit more pressure on England" but, whereas Southgate's side are one of the youngest at the tournament, this will be a last roll of the dice at a World Cup for many Croatia players - including Modric himself at 32.

Having represented Tottenham before joining Real, Modric said playing England was "always special".

Croatia's wait to return to a World Cup semi-final has been shorter than England's 28-year absence.

Twenty years ago, in France, a Croatian team featuring Davor Suker, Slaven Bilic and Zvonimir Boban made the last four of the competition only to be beaten by the hosts, and eventual winners, despite taking the lead.

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