Croatia captain Luka Modric is confident his side can reach their first ever World Cup final after they dug deep to beat hosts Russia in a tense quarter final game in Sochi on Saturday night.
Modric was named man of the match in the gruelling contest which ended 1-1 after regulation time and 2-2 after extra-time, setting the stage for another pulsating penalty shootout contest after their second round progress through the same means.
Goalkeeper Danijel Subasic then denied Alexandr Golovin’s kick before Ivan Rakitic netted the decisive kick to send the Croats to the World Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1998.
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“It makes us extremely proud and happy that we reach the semifinals of the World Cup after twenty years,” said the Real Madrid midfielder after the game.
“It was a difficult game, we had to run a lot and we had to overcome the injury problems we had during the game. I believe we ought to have finished the job earlier but we are grateful we scaled through in the end.”
Current Croatia Football Federation President, Davor Suker was the star of the national team in 1998 when he emerged as the tournament’s top scorer as they bowed out to hosts and eventual winners France in the semi-finals.
Modric, 32, is confident the current side coached by Zlatko Dalic have all it takes to reach next Sunday’s final at the Luzhniki Stadium.
“We are hopeful of going a step further than 1998. We have the requisite for that, we have a great team, a good coach fantastic staff and I hope we can make that further step up this time.”
Luka Modric excelled in the colours of English side Tottenham Hotspur before joining Real Madrid in the summer of 2012. He sure knows a lot about Croatia’s semi-final opponents, The Three Lions. However, having played 120 minutes in back to back games, he is not oblivious of the task ahead of them.
“I know it will be difficult to play two 120 minutes in six days but that is the price we must pay to succeed.
“We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match against England. We have to enjoy the moment now and from tomorrow have to prepare for England,” said Modric
Croatia’s first ever meeting with England at the World Cup finals will take place at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday, July 11.