Zlatko Dalic says Croatia's World Cup progress is no surprise

Paola Ditto
Luglio 12, 2018

Whatever position, wherever he plays, it doesn't make a difference to a player of that quality.

In Les Bleus' opening match, the video assistant referee came into play for the first time at the World Cup as Antoine Griezmann put France ahead with a contentious second-half penalty. "We were 1-0 down three games in a row and came back to win each time". Two played with half a leg. "I'm very happy for my players, we showed character and the right mentality, it was very hard for us tonight".

When Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenkovic visited the team hotel in Moscow on Wednesday that 1998 game was on his mind - even before beating England.

"We will go into this final to win it, as we have still not got over the 2016 final".

Martinez admitted Saturday's third-fourth place play-off game is not one for which it will be easy to prepare, but challenged his players to see it as another opportunity.

No team has ever made it to the World Cup final after going to extra-time in all three prior knockout rounds - England twice won in extra-time in 1990 before losing on penalties to West Germany in the semi-finals.

"It's fantastic, we're so excited", said Christopher Tomas, owner of the Croatian Corner deli, of Croatia's win.

The French have relied on the attacking brilliance of 19-year-old forward Kylian Mbappé while Croatia have depended on Luka Modric and Mario Mandzukic to spearhead their attack.

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"It's tough, we're gutted", he said. There's a lot we could have done better.

The dream ended for supporters in Moscow and at home as Gareth Southgate's men lost 2-1 to Croatia in the semi-final after extra time.

When the final whistle blew and they knew they were going to their first World Cup final, the Croatians ran to their jumping and cheering fans in their iconic red-and-white checkered jerseys.

"You don't get success in football and good weather in England", said Nikki Langley-Essen, 38, a London events manager enjoying the novelty of both.

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