Croatia ends Russia's run in shootout

Croatia ends Russia's run in shootout

Croatia ends Russia's run in shootout

Croatia's Luka Modric, top, celebrates with Dejan Lovren after winning the quarter-final match between Russian Federation and Croatia at the 2018 World Cup on July 7, 2018.

The coach of the 1998 side, Jaroslav Ciro Blazevic, said for a long time he did not want any other team to match his players' achievements.

"We played at club level as well", says striker Mario Mandzukic, who played with Modric at Dinamo Zagreb a decade ago before the latter joined Tottenham Hotspur. Through five matches, it looked as if they could finally deliver on their promise.

"He is a fantastic player who can create magical moments and I think he has been one of the outstanding performers so far in this World Cup".

Croatia have never been to a World Cup final, though they reached the semi-finals in 1998 with a team featuring the likes of Slavan Bilic and Davor Suker. "It's the support of those around you and the people that were there for you in hard times as well as when things were going well".

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After beating both Colombia and Sweden in the knockouts, running out rather comfortable winners in Saturday's, the Three Lions will tussle with fellow surprise package Croatia for a place in the final.

This they did by pelting the bus of the team, which included Neymar, with stones.

Every time a Croatian player appears before the media at this World Cup, he knows a question about Modric is coming, and every time the answer reflects the admiration there is in the squad for their captain. "It's not something you need to travel to Belgium to realise", he said.

Former Croatia worldwide Filip Tapalovic has been surprised by the nation's World Cup run, highlighting their mentality and team spirit as crucial. Of course I have an important role on a daily basis, but the credit goes to my players.

He said: "Well, I think I've said this before, but I was not a renowned fashion icon throughout my playing career, so it's rather unusual to feel that way now".

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