Luka Modric shines again but team mates must do more

"This was my last World Cup, my last tournament and the last match of my soccer career". The Croatians lost to France in the semis 20 years ago.

Russia's unexpected run to the quarterfinals sparked a surge of support from fans who had largely been indifferent to the team before the World Cup started.

How they got there Croatia after winning Group D with a 100 per cent record have had to grit their way through the knockout stages with penalty shoot-out wins over Denmark and hosts Russian Federation.

"We trusted ourselves. We could only prove our worth by working hard", said Cherchesov.

Croatia may be blessed with the talents of Luka Modric - arguably the finest midfielder in the world - and Ivan Rakitic, but is there any reason for England to be genuinely fearful? Goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev said the team had played with all the heart and soul. What aided Croatia further was that the Russian goalie became a bit unsighted when Vida headed the ball.

However, with favourable draws and impressive performances, they two teams see themselves in the final four of the competition and expect both teams to battle to feature in the final.

It will be Croatia's second World Cup semi-final appearance since 1998 and England's first since 1990.

"Yesterday and today I would have experienced the same feelings towards me, if I were in your place", said Fedor Smolov, sharing the blame for the quarter-final defeat in which he missed a penalty against Croatia. "We have succeeded I believe, but it is time to take a step forward".

'There are no favourites in this World Cup - every game is 50-50 and you have to fight it out. They also trailed Croatia 1-0 in the semifinals before earning a 2-1 win.

"That was a great success for Croatia as a nation, and we are on the right track to repeat that feat".

"He watched. He was rooting for the team". The fact that many stars in the contest play in the Premier League, and are very familiar with each other, will add spice to a match that does not need to be hyped.

"I don't why Russian fans might not get it".

"They dealt with Sweden relatively easily so we know they are going to be a hard opponent and we respect them", he continued.

This time, they will face a resurgent England side in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium on July 12 (Singapore time).

  • Kyle Peterson