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Zlatko Dalić talks ahead of Japan: ‘I’m sure this won’t be Modrić’s last tournament for Croatia’

Croatia takes on Japan on Monday in the Round of 16 at the 2022 FIFA World Cup and coach Zlatko Dalić spoke to the press on Sunday ahead of the match, the Croatian Football Federation writes.

Japanese character

“We respect the opponent who beat the world champions Spain and Germany, after losing in the first half, they showed their mentality and character, their quality. Japan wants to prove themselves, they are the best in pressing and transition, even though they don’t have the ball. 

Counterattacks end with with five players, and Spain and Germany were penalised for their laxity, we have to regain possession immediately after we loose the ball or make a foul. I tell my players that we must not underestimate anyone- We have to play our game, give our best, and then the field will show who is better”

Borna Sosa

“We’ll see the situation at the last training session, if he can’t be at 100 percent, we won’t risk anything or calculate anything. We need players at full strength, maximally ready. No matter what we decide, we will give our best, we know what our goal is and who we are for whenever they showed trust, they justified it”

Joško Gvardiol

“He came to EURO 2020 from the youth national team, he earned our trust with his games, and he cannot become a player without support. Mistakes must be endured, there will be more, but a young player must play and gain experience through matches. He justified our trust and may it continue to progress”

Luka Modrić

“Whatever I say about Luka, it’s too little. He is our captain and leader. Everything has been said, may he continue and I am sure that he will be with us for a long time and that this is not his last competition for Croatia. His seriousness, professionalism, work, training give us the right. I don’t like talking about individuals, we are a team of 26 players, we can only achieve results together. This is how we live, this is how we work, and an individual will always stand out.”

Extra time and penalties

“I hope that we will solve everything before extra time and penalties, but if it comes to that, we are ready. The Japanese will not give up, but neither will we, it will be a fight until the very end. Japan is perhaps the most persistent team, and in 2018 we we survived such matches because we were patient, believed in ourselves and didn’t give up. We showed that approach in practice and I think we can confidently and equally deal with Japan.”

Secrets of Croatian success

“Croatia’s secret is primarily the quality of our players and the great generation. It is our talent, our work. Croatia is perhaps for that world number one. No one is happier than us if we are finally champions, we have our chance. We will try, and I am always optimist. The World Cup is of high quality, Croatia is playing well, we have passed the group stages for the second time in a row. Croatia is arguably the smallest country among the 16, but our dreams are big. 

Let’s go step by step, be patient, let’s go to the first step. I think they are our results over the last few years rank as a world miracle and that is our success. We are good at continuity, Croatia has become a world football superpower that everyone must respect. We want to make our people happy, the whole homeland is happy with our results and I want it to last as long as possible.“

Fan support

“I hope that there will be even more of our fans, even though we are aware that it is difficult for them to come. Their support is extremely important to us, we are happy to see them, and with them we are much stronger”

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