Bilic: Croatia will up their game against big teams

Luka Modric

With a team featuring Davor Suker, Zvonimir Boban and Robert Prosinecki wearing blue shirts with a distinctive red and white chequerboard pattern, they beat World Cup giants Germany 3-0 in the quarter-finals in France, sparking delirium at home.

"Of course, I am rooting for Croatia and want Team Croatia to advance. We hope for a victory", Plenkovic, dressed in a football jersey, told reporters before leaving for Moscow.

After Dalić's team soared through the group stage of the World Cup and managed to defeat Denmark in a nerve-racking round of 16 match, Croatia has become a favorite for bookies.

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'm so pleased for him because he's a great person as well". But he saved fantastically the first shot in the shootout.

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"I am very close to him at Liverpool and wish him all the best - but, like I say, hopefully that journey for him ends tomorrow". "That in future we talk about them", said Blazevic, now 83, and known in Croatia as the "coach of all coaches". "We want to get close to them, although it is hard to repeat this endeavour, but we will try", the 51-year-old told reporters.

The match takes place in Moscow on Wednesday evening, and Dalic has warned his team should not be underestimated.

Speaking on the eve of Croatia's meeting with England, Dalic said: "We are a country where anything is possible, so there are no surprises". Meticulous preparation - including a trip to the United States to take in an National Basketball Association game - the selection of specific players with strong dead-ball delivery, and the defensive nature of high-pressure tournament soccer has led to a point where set pieces could yet lead England to a second World Cup title.

That mattered little though for battling coach Stanislav Cherchesov who assembled a team that defied all forecasts and made the home nation proud. Several players who are not members of the current team are still under investigation over possible drug offences. "But Croatia can also cause England problems they haven't had before".

"Holding the ball up, tirelessly stretching defenses into submission and making intelligent runs either onto throughballs or to open up space for Croatia's craftsmen are all caveats to Mandzukic's game". With France taking on Belgium and Croatia taking on the English, the best moments might be yet to come.

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