Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has claimed that his players’ World Cup win over England was driven by a perceived lack of respect shown towards them by Gareth Southgate’s team.
Dalic is preparing for a World Cup final against France here on Sunday after Wednesday’s extra-time victory over England.
And now the 51-year-old has backed up claims by players like Luka Modric and Dejan Lovren that England took Croatia for granted before the game.
Zlatko Dalic claims Croatia’s victory over England was driven by a perceived lack of respect
Croatia beat England 2-1 after extra time on Wednesday night to reach the World Cup final
‘I believe that we deserved to win,’ Dalic said.
‘We were the better team in the second half and in extra time.
‘We always respect our opponents and we expect them to respect us back.
‘Maybe the England team and media did not show enough respect to the Croatian national team.
‘We deserved respect, especially if you look at the big clubs our players play for. This may have been an extra motivating factor for us. I think people should be dignified in victory and defeat.’
Nobody in the England team said anything negative ahead of the Croatia game but something certainly seems to have got under the skin of Dalic and his players.
Real Madrid star Modric aimed his comments specifically at the English media, saying: ‘English journalists, pundits from television, they underestimated Croatia and that was a huge mistake.
‘They should be more humble and respect more opponents.
‘All these words from them we took, we were reading and we were saying: “OK, today we will see who will be tired.”‘
Liverpool defender Lovren was equally scathing after the game, he said: ‘This feels incredible, especially after everything that was said about us before the game.
Real Madrid star Luka Modric aimed his comments specifically at the English media after win
‘We showed that we deserved to be in the final and people should respect us. People should respect me also.’
Coach Dalic spoke for an hour on Thursday back at the same Luzhniki Stadium where his team broke English hearts the day before.
Looking back on the game, he admitted that his team could have been finished had England captain Harry Kane taken a clear first half chance at a time when they were leading 1-0.
‘England had a sitter and Kane missed it,’ he said.
While Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren was equally scathing after the game in Moscow
‘Had we conceded for a second time it would have been very difficult to come back.
‘We were lucky but also showed character. We deserved that piece of luck but afterwards things were never in doubt.
‘My players are at top clubs and people should remember that.’
With a population of just 4million people — about half the size of London — Croatia are a surprise World Cup finalist. Even Dalic himself has described his team’s journey through the tournament as a ‘miracle’.
Dalic spoke on Thursday back at the Luzhniki Stadium where his team broke English hearts
‘This was a fast and slick and young England side but we had experience they could not match,’ he added.
‘My players have played Champions League football and are champions in their countries.
‘Big countries like Argentina, Brazil, Germany and England are not in the final but Croatia is. That is why we are a miracle and I hope this miracle lasts as long as possible.
Dalic admitted his team could have been finished had Harry Kane taken first half chance
‘We have solidarity and unity and the teams that did not have that are now back home.
‘When England come to play us in qualifying for the European Championships next year we don’t even have an adequate stadium for the game.
‘That is another reason why we are a miracle.
‘We have not got the infrastructure but we have god-given talent and pride. Here, that has been enough.’
Author: Nancy Parker
Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.