Croatia vs England - Zlatko Dalic wants to keep Croatia party going with World Cup win

Posted Wednesday, July 11, 2018 by PA

Croatia vs England - Zlatko Dalic wants to keep Croatia party going with World Cup win

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic believes victory over England on Wednesday would spark the biggest party in the country’s short history.

Croatian players competed for Yugoslavia between 1945 and 1990 and the modern Croatian FA was not recognised by FIFA and UEFA until 1993.

Five years later, the team achieved its greatest result, third at France 1998, and they are now back in the World Cup’s semi-finals and hoping for more.

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.

“We are four million people, four million coaches and four million players. Everyone has been out on the streets celebrating what we’ve achieved and that is a great source of pride for us.

“Those emotions are what drive us, that is our petrol and how we have come back to a semi-final after 20 years.

“I don’t know what will happen if we win, probably nobody will go to work. We’re not working much now so you can imagine what it will be like if we win.”

Dalic believes England’s more attacking style could suit his side, but noted the set-piece threat posed by Gareth Southgate’s men.

“We know their set-pieces are dangerous, they have scored seven times from them, but we have no reason to be nervous, we are relieved of any pressure and are here to enjoy ourselves,” he said.

Meanwhile, Jordan Henderson is desperate to extend his record-breaking unbeaten run and help England reach the final.

Southgate’s men have ripped up the script over a remarkable month.

It has seen widespread apathy towards the Three Lions replaced by excitement and renewed hope, with previously unheralded players stepping up and better-known names underlining their quality and in some cases changing perceptions.

Henderson is among those to have quietened the doubters this summer, with the Liverpool captain shining in a side that is now preparing to line up at the Luzhniki Stadium.

“It’s a special feeling to know that people back home and out here in Russia are enjoying the experience just as much as we are,” the midfielder said on the eve of the game.

“All the celebrations and the songs they’re singing back home, it inspires us as players to be able to sort of bring the nation together and put smiles on people’s faces.

“I think that’s the biggest thing so far to come out of it and we just want to continue doing everybody proud.”

There is no doubt that pride has been restored regardless of the outcome on Wednesday, when Henderson’s selection is a good omen.

The 28-year-old has not tasted defeat in an England shirt since the last World Cup four years ago, going on a 30-match unbeaten run that is the longest of any player in the country’s history.

“Someone mentioned it the other day to us,” Henderson said with a smile. “But, to be honest, I wouldn’t really look too much into it because I don’t win on my own. We win as a team.

“Just as much as if I played and we lost every match, I don’t think it would be my fault either. Of course, I want to win. We want to win as a team. But it’s not down to any individual or one player.”

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