In the latest Croatia news, head coach Zlatko Dalic says it has come as a surprise how far his team has gone at the World Cup.
The Vatreni are preparing for just their second ever semi-final at a World Cup against England on Wednesday evening, having previously reached the last four in 1998.
A place in a first final is now tantalisingly close for the Croats, who have had to hold their nerve during the knockout stages to eliminate both Denmark and Russia on penalties.
Just making the tournament in Russia had been a struggle for Croatia, with Dalic replace Ante Cacic for the crucial last qualifier against the Ukraine, which they won 2-0 to book a play-off with Greece, who they brushed aside.
The rest is history and now Dalic is looking to continue his nation’s remarkable journey, with Croatia 5/4 at Betfred to reach the final.
He told RLC: “I believed and now that we are in the four best teams we are surprised, okay, it’s a miracle, but why wouldn’t we be among the four best teams?
“We have to believe in ourselves, we have such players, we have such potential, so it’s not weird.”
Croatia impressed during the group stages, ripping Argentina to pieces in a 3-0 triumph, but have struggled to hit the same heights in the knockout stages.
Dalic says they found it tough against the defensive-minded Danes and Russians although he believes England’s style could play into their hands.
“We had three tough games, with opponents who are not our style, our way of playing, defensive teams, a lot of long balls, skipping game, and that did not suit us,” he added.
“But I’m glad we demonstrated strength at such matches and adapted their style, we played the best we could and finally got those matches. I hope that against England it will finally be our style of play and our match.”