herald

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Croatia can handle pressure insists Dalic

Confident: Zlatko Dalic
Confident: Zlatko Dalic

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic is confident his side can handle the atmosphere as they take on hosts Russia for a place in the World Cup semi-finals.

Croatia will come up against a partisan Russian crowd in their last eight-tie in Sochi this evening.

Speaking at his pre-match press conference, Dalic told the assembled media: "We cannot choose our opponents, hosts or otherwise.

"We are facing a huge game in the quarter-finals and it doesn't matter who the opponents are.

"The only difference is they will have vociferous fans but every week our team plays with opposing fans howling at them. It shouldn't be a problem for my players.

"We will not be looking for excuses. We have to play our own game regardless of who is in the stands."

Shock

Russia's run to the quarter-finals, which included a shock defeat of Spain in the last round, has been unexpected. Croatia will go into the game as favourites.

However, Dalic is not underestimating the hosts.

He said: "We have a great deal of respect for them. You cannot reach the last eight of the World Cup if you don't quality.

"If you beat Spain, then you deserve your place among the eight best teams in the World Cup.

"I can't tell you the gameplan or tactics that they will use in this game - but I know what our gameplan is going to be.

"We have to repeat what we have been doing in the last four games, be well organised and defend well. We have to be united as a team, go forward and apply pressure. We have the strength and quality to do that."

Victory would see Croatia emulate the achievement of their 1998 side in reaching the last four.

That was a high-water mark for Croatian football that the current crop are all to aware of.

Dalic said: "That was a great success for Croatia as a nation. We are on the right track to repeat that feat but it is not going to be easy.

"We have to find the motivation to play a good game and progress against a very respected host nation."

Midfielder Ivan Rakitic says preparations have been thorough.

"I know all their players," he said. "We have been briefed in detail about them and how they play, and I know them personally.

"They have a very serious national team.

"They deserve to have reached the quarter-final stage. It is up to us now to take the game to them and play our game."

Promoted articles

Entertainment News