Sunday, 18 November, 2018

Subasic plays through injury, comes up big again for Croatia

Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saves the decisive penalty during a penalty shoot out after extra time during the round of 16 match between Croatia Croatia goalkeeper Danijel Subasic saves the decisive penalty during a penalty shoot out after extra time during the round of 16 match between Croatia
Ray Hunter | 11 July, 2018, 07:38

The Croatians' memorable run to the semifinals in 1998 remains a moment of pride for the country. Ranked 70th in the Federation Internationale de Football Association rankings released just before the start of the tournament and therefore the worst team, on paper, many expected Russia to crash out at the first time of asking.

She posed for pictures with Luka Modric and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic as the team celebrated the prospect of taking on England for a place in next week's final. Saturday's thriller between hosts Russian Federation and 1998 bronze medalists Croatia was one of them. "They achieved a historic result in France".

The current group of Croatians has become exhausted of hearing about what happened in 1998.

"They are our heroes, they are our inspiration, they brought us to this point, and we would like to continue on their way, and hopefully we will take a step further tomorrow if we have the strength and luck to do so", he added.

Croatia lost 2-1 on that occasion, but eventually finished third.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez produced a masterstroke to help his side beat Russian Federation, swapping the 3-4-2-1 he has used for most of the World Cup, for a 4-3-3 against Brazil. I don't cry often but now I have a good cause: Croatia are in the semi-finals. In 2014, the team didn't even make it out of the group stage.

"There are no favourites in this World Cup - every game is 50-50 and you have to fight it out".

England know the team that will face Tunisia, says Delph
What is more, the five wins include a 2-0 success in 1998 against Tunisia - who Gareth Southgate's side face first up in Russian Federation on Monday.

This is the first time they have reached the knock-out phase since - and they had to qualify for Russian Federation via the play-offs - and Luka Modric reckons their good fortune is long overdue. However, during the Euro 2008 qualifiers, Croatia twice beat England, including in a decisive game at Wembley when Steve McClaren's reign ended after a 3-2 loss that meant England missed the tournament. Two key midfielders and playmakers were nearly operating as sweepers alongside Lovren and Vida - starving Croatia and their forwards of creativity.

Follow Al Jazeera's coverage of the World Cup 2018 here. "That's what we are here for".

After such tight matches, it is easy to forget that Croatia produced a feast of attacking play to destroy Lionel Messi's Argentina 3-0 in the group phase.

Croatia president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic will again be in attendance as the interest in football reaches fever pitch.

"It was a dream to be in a similar situation one day".

Artem Dzyuba had a volley blocked by Dejan Lovren as Russian Federation looked to make an early mark on the game, and an Ante Rebic header and Rakitic free-kick looped over the bar at the other end. "This shouldn't be a problem for us, and ultimately we should not be hoping to have any excuses".

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