Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has revealed the plan he intends to implement when his team faces England in the World Cup semi-finals tonight.
Both England and Croatia had to work hard to qualify for the semis, Dalic’s men the eventual winners on penalties against hosts Russia and Gareth Southgate having to rally his team to edge out a stubborn Sweden.
This is the first time England are featuring in a World Cup semi-final since 1990. For Croatia, qualifying for the last four meant they had equalled their best ever World Cup record, a semi-final appearance in 1998 under coach Miroslav Blazovic.
Funny enough, the only time England ever made it to this stage of the competition, Croatia was not yet independent as a country.
According to an article published on British news outlet The Mirror on July 10, coach Dalic has done his homework on Southgate’s setup and knows where massive threats lie.
“We had two team meetings and showed them how they (England) play. We did everything we could. We know where their threat is. We have to be wary of their set-plays, but we have no reason to be nervous,” said Dalic as seen on the Mirror.
He then noted that it was important his players enjoyed playing in a World Cup semi-final, no matter the opponent.
“We have time to enjoy the semi-final and we’re here to play well - it doesn’t matter who we are playing,” he added.
England will be hoping to end their 52-year wait by beating Croatia, a side inspired by a ‘Golden Generation’ of players who practice most of their trade in Europe’s top leagues.
This will be the eighth time these two nations are meeting on a football field, the Three Lions claiming four victories with the Croats only managing two. They have drawn twice.
2004 was the only time these two sides met in a major competition, the Euros, where Wayne Rooney made headlines with a brace as England emerged 4-1 winners.
During 2008 European Cup qualifying, Croatia beat England 3-1 at Wembley before the Three Lions got their revenge in 2010, Theo Walcott scoring a hat-trick to send them to the World Cup in South Africa.