Finally, England and Croatia have chance to banish semi blues

Soccer: Russia can keep on partying after fine World Cup run

Croatian players competed for Yugoslavia between 1945 and 1990 and the modern Croatian FA was not recognised by Federation Internationale de Football Association and UEFA until 1993.

Given Croatia had extra time and penalties to recover from, England should come into the game fresher and they also have the edge in previous meetings, winning four of the seven encounters, including a 5-1 victory in their most recent match - a World Cup qualifier in 2009.

Speaking to "ESPN", Suker said: "My captain does a great job in the dressing room - he's a role model on and off the pitch for all kids, not only in Croatia". The whole squad, even people who aren't here that have chipped in for us to be in this situation now.

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

"It's a special feeling to know that people back home and out here in Russian Federation are enjoying the experience just as much as we are", the midfielder said on the eve of the game.

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Dalic, who enjoyed a solid but unspectacular career as a midfielder in Croatia, was given the national job past year after success as a coach in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric and the man from Barcelona alongside him, Ivan Rakitic, are so vital to the way Zlatko Dalic's side play it is easy to overlook other threats, such as hard-working striker Mario Mandzukic. "Something had to change to get the results", Dalic said.

To that point, we had been allowing Spain to play their game, passing the ball like we all know they love...

"They're very risky on set-pieces". The Croatia midfielder would spend four seasons at White Hart Lane and it was a period in which he had a close-up view of the travails of the England team; the angst, anger and division that characterised the feel of it.

"We like to play against teams like England because we have fast players and it will be open", Vedran Corluka, the former Manchester City and Tottenham defender, said. The visitors lost 4-1, with Harry Kane scoring twice, but Lovren was substituted after 31 minutes. "He has a knack for being in the right place at the right time too (his solitary goal in the last 16 against Denmark is evidence of that) and he always shows up for the big games - so expect him to make a significant impact in Sochi", writes Sport360. You are just nitpicking a bad performance.

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