Convicted Croatia team official keeps World Cup VIP status

Dubrovnik airport

Dubrovnik airport

Croatia are through to the semi-final of the World Cup after beating Russia/Croatia following a nerve-wracking penalty shootout.

The 51-year-old made it his mission to change that and the results have been spectacular, most notably a 3-0 demolition of Argentina in the group stage, although the side has needed penalties to get past Denmark and hosts Russian Federation in the knockout stages.

"In the second half and in extra time we dominated, we should have finished the job before penalties", he said, "but maybe it's written in the stars that we have to go through the extra drama".

"They're like me - this is the most relaxed we have been, but England is obviously the first choice".

Croatia will now face England on Wednesday in Moscow and after two long and tiring games they will surely start as heavy-legged underdogs.

"This is really a big day for Croatian sport and football, it is a success that we will remember for generations".

"This generation has been underrated due to their results but they've had the quality and now they are showing it".

"We need all the players but they must all be fit on the pitch".

"Croatia has great players playing at the greatest clubs, but it is true we have not had good results at major tournament for decades", the coach said on Tuesday.

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He has, however, noted the set-piece threat posed by Gareth Southgate's men. They play with great speed and aggression and are very risky from set pieces.

Dalic blamed Croatia's opponents for smothering the creative talents of Luka Modric and said he expected a more open match in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium.

The first quarter-final match was played between Uruguay and France.

He also said there was no need for him to give his team-mates any tips on England's players, as they were all well aware of who they are up against.

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"I have all respect for Harry Kane".

Their one defeat came against Belgium in their final group game, in a match between two essentially reserve sides.

Striker Fyodor Smolov struck an apologetic tone after failing to score during the tournament and missing in Saturday's shootout, saying: 'What you'd like to say yesterday and today about me, in your place I'd feel the same.' He was cheered by the crowd. You're nitpicking at my poor performances. "It will be a battle again but I believe in us".

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