Moscow: Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said Tuesday that he will urge his players to enjoy their FIFA World Cup 2018 semifinal against England and to remember that anything is possible. The Balkan side is to face England, champions of the 1966 World Cup, on Wednesday at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.
Seeking to shift the pressure to The Three Lions, Dalic said on the eve of the game that Croatia has no reason to feel nervous as they contemplate only the second World Cup semifinal in their comparatively short history.
Dalic stressed that the presence of Croatia in the semifinals is deserved and he placed the current generation of players on a par with the Croatian squad that won the bronze medal at the 1998 World Cup in France.
Asked about the status of defender Sime Vrsaljko, who has been dealing with a knee problem, the coach said that the Atletico Madrid stalwart might miss Wednesday's match.
Dalic had warm words for all his players, but said that he was especially happy to see Croatia get so far in the tournament in what is likely the last World Cup appearance for 32-year-old captain Luka Modric, praising the Real Madrid midfielder for his quality and leadership.
England coach Gareth Southgate said that the Three Lions, who are in the semifinals for the first time since 1990, have a great opportunity to advance to the final round of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia.
"We keep looking to break the barriers down. It's been an enjoyable journey, and we want to keep it going," Southgate, 47, said at Luzhniki Stadium on the eve of the Croatia-England clash.
"We've been one of the youngest teams in the tournament, the least experienced, (and) we were never quite sure how far this team could go," the coach said, adding that all his players will be available for Wednesday's match.
"We've defended well, scored in the last minute, conceded in the last minute, come through extra-time and (in) penalties. We've made several pieces of history," Southgate said, urging his squad to keep up the level of play they have shown so far.
"The improvement and the hunger in the players is very clear for everyone to see," he added.