Mario Mandzukic: Croatia have what it takes to surprise England keeper Pickford


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Modric has scored twice in Russian Federation, including a fabulous goal in the 3-0 win over Argentina in the group stage, and twice netted in nail-biting penalty shootouts against Denmark and Russian Federation.

The former Dynamo Kiev player scored an extra-time goal and one of Croatia s penalties in a 4-3 shootout win over the World Cup hosts in Sochi on Saturday.

Yet Dalic does not fear fatigue being a factor for his players in Moscow on Wednesday night.

They have experience, bags of talent and there is no questioning their fighting spirit yet there is something still strangely lacking in the Croatia team which has reached the World Cup semi-finals for the second time in their history.

The Croatians looked more comfortable from the spot, netting four of their five attempts with midfielder Ivan Rakitic firing home the decisive effort to put them into the semi-finals, prompting tears from Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic.

"Putin called me during the day, and he called me right now", Cherchesov said.

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"We have to play our own game regardless of who is in the stands". "Then I went to our assistant coach Drazen Ladic and he told me to think of something nice".

OPENING SALVO Russia had delivered the ideal opening salvo, firing five goals past the Saudis in the World Cup opening match that instantly gave the home crowd a reason to turn their attention to football.

In Belgium, the likes of Jean-Marie Pfaff, Jan Ceulemans, Franky Vercauteren, Enzo Scifo and Eric Gerets bring back memories of the Red Devils' one and only last four appearance, in Mexico 1986.

"We do not want to stop. When the game starts, there is a little bit of pressure, but we're really enjoying being here at the semi-finals".

"At certain times we lacked power, but we played two times 120 minutes of football in six days", Modric said. "It's going to be a man's match and we will have to step up". "It turned out I didn't play much, it was hard to break into the team because they were playing great throughout the season and no coach would change a winning team, but it was a great experience".

Dalic's team looked exhausted as they laboured against unfancied hosts Russian Federation for 120 minutes on Saturday night before they advanced via a shoot-out success for the second successive game.

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