Published: Wed, July 11, 2018
Sport | By Cameron Gross

Croatia plots ‘football Brexit’ as England World Cup semi looms

Croatia plots ‘football Brexit’ as England World Cup semi looms

Croatia's President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic shakes hands with Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev next to FIFA president Gianni Infantino prior to the start of the Russia 2018 World Cup quarter-final football match between Russia and Croatia at the Fisht Stadium in Sochi on July 7, 2018.

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.

Dalic had warm words for all his players, but said that he was especially happy to see Croatia get so far in the tournament in what is likely the last World Cup appearance for 32-year-old captain Luka Modric, praising the Real Madrid midfielder for his quality and leadership. "Something had to change to get the results", Dalic said.

Ahead of that contest against England in Moscow, Croatian Football Federation president Suker - a star of the team that reached the last four in France 20 years ago - says Modric deserves to be recognised for his achievements by breaking the 10-year monopoly Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi have had on football's greatest individual prize.

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"We will have to improve on our set-piece defending between now and Wednesday".

"The players have shown their qualities when it matters at this World Cup, and maybe will go down in history as a great generation which has gone close to the third-place finish of the 1998 World Cup". The biggest challenge England faced so far was the Belgium game in the group stage which they lost.

The coach, however, will have to wait and see if defender Sime Vrsaljko, who played in four of their five games, will be fit for the match after picking up a knee injury. "I can not tell you (if he will play on Wednesday)", Dalic said.

"Even though they've not had as much game-time as they would have liked, they are as much of a reason why we are where we are". Modric has consistently looked better when he has played higher up the pitch and it is plain that one of England's major challenges will be to nullify him. We have played five games, but being exhausted can not be an alibi. Playing in the easiest group in the World Cup, Uruguay broke them and they were lucky that Salah was injured and was not at his best level. "I don't know if there is a different mentality but it seems that they are more like a team".

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