London — World Cup glory beckons for Croatian stars resembling Luka Modric after a number of traumatic experiences at main tournaments, says their former coach Slaven Bilic.
The charismatic 49-year-old — who’s in Russia as a TV pundit for English broadcaster ITV — informed the Each day Mail Modric and fellow famous person Ivan Rakitic would pose issues for England of their World Cup semi-final on Wednesday they haven’t had to encounter so far.
“Luka and Rakitic are the very best midfield pair within the World Cup,” mentioned Bilic. “However don’t under- estimate the remainder of the crew both. For me, Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida have been unbelievable centre backs, among the many greatest within the World Cup.
“England might be a unique opponent to Denmark, Russia and even Argentina. They actually have lots of tempo, like Belgium, and get loads of numbers ahead.
“Croatia may have to plan for that. However Croatia can even trigger England issues they haven’t had earlier than.”
Bilic, who’s a mentor to a number of of the current squad, together with Modric, having nurtured their expertise as Croatia’s Beneath-21 handler earlier than turning into head coach of the nationwide aspect, mentioned he was assured this crew may go one higher than he and his teammates did in 1998 and attain the ultimate.
The hosts and eventual champions France got here from 1-Zero down to beat Croatia 2-1, however Bilic didn’t emerge with nice credit score from the sport, happening clutching his face as if he had been head-butted by France’s Laurent Blanc, who received red-carded and missed France’s best soccer second.
Bilic, who’s out of labor after having been sacked by Premier League aspect West Ham United final season, skilled a few of the highs and the lows with the Croatian gamers — resembling being seconds away from the Euro 2008 semifinals just for Turkey to degree and progress on penalties. The Croats suffered the same late reversal when eventual champions Portugal defeated them in extra-time of the Euro 2016 final 16 conflict.
“These recollections are painful and the gamers realise that is their time,” mentioned Bilic.
“They’re within the higher half of the draw and we have now a correct crew, stuffed with high quality, stuffed with expertise. They play for large golf equipment resembling Barcelona, Actual Madrid and Inter Milan. And so they have this unimaginable spirit, like England have.”
Bilic, who’s answerable for persuading Rakitic to play for Croatia reasonably than his adopted nation of Switzerland, was in cost in a earlier victory for Croatia over England at Wembley in a Euro 2008 qualifier.
Bilic believes a relentless theme in Croatian nationwide sides is that they up their recreation towards the traditionally greater sides, thus their low-key performances towards Denmark and Russia, beating each on penalties, ought to be disregarded.
“We now have all the time proven we will do effectively towards the large nations. After I performed we beat Germany Three-Zero on the 1998 World Cup [in the quarterfinals]. On the final Euros, we defeated Spain. We gained Three-Zero towards Argentina a few weeks in the past. It’s the tighter, uglier video games which have been our downfall.”