Croatia reaching the final of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar will be “the greatest success in our history,” said coach Zlatko Dalic ahead of the semi-final clash with Argentina.
“For me, the semi-final match against England (in 2018) was the greatest of all time, and Brazil was second. Tomorrow’s match will be the third. To repeat such an achievement (of reaching the final) on the World Cup stage, to win tomorrow, it would make it the greatest game for Croatia of all time,” Dalic added.
The Croatian side reached the final in Russia in 2018, when they were defeated by France.
Croatia defeated Argentina in their group, but Dalic said that will not count much in Tuesday’s clash at the Lusail Stadium.
“This 2018 match has nothing to do with tomorrow’s match. It is a great match for both countries. The stakes are high for both teams. Tomorrow, none of us will spare any effort. I expect a solid, dynamic and fair game from both sides.”
Dalic added that his team reaching the final four years back served as an inspiration to many smaller countries throughout the football world.
“The Croatia national team four years ago made a dream a reality for all small countries — we gave those countries the right to have those dreams. Four years ago nobody expected Croatia to reach the final. They have been encouraged by our fight and our quality. It’s a great success for Croatia to be among the best four football nations in the world for the second time in a row. But we want more,” he said.
“I’m an optimist by nature. I trust my players. We’re playing against the great Argentina with their leader Lionel Messi, but they are maybe a bit more under pressure than we are,” he added.
“We are playing the great Argentina, a terrific team led by Lionel Messi. We have analysed our opponent and we know how they play, where they want to take the game.”
“I am an optimist by nature; I trust my players. They have great character, and they would not have made the semi-finals without that.”
Dalic said that there were no real fitness concerns among his squad, despite a gruelling journey so far in Qatar, adding: “We have played extra time in two matches, but we are in the semi-finals of the World Cup, so we are not discussing exhaustion.”
“We have strength, willingness and energy. We will give our best. We have recovered after each match.”