Toni Kroos hits back at critics after Germany's start at the World Cup

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Match winner: Toni Kroos

Toni Kroos has hit back at former Germany internationals and pundits for their criticism following the team’s shaky start to the World Cup.

Kroos hit a stunning free-kick deep into stoppage time to seal Germany’s 2-1 win against Sweden on Saturday to keep their knockout hopes alive. The defending champions were beaten 1-0 by Mexic in their opener.

Speaking to ARD broadcaster, Kroos said: “Many people would have been happy if we had gone out.

“Anyone who speaks up, those experts, and anyone who writes about it can feel they have addressed things, but it gives me the feeling that it’s more fun to analyse or talk or write badly of us.

“I’m not talking about the fans who go to the fan miles (fan zones in Germany).”

If Germany are to reach the last-16 stage, they must win by a margin of two goals against South Korea on Wednesday. Anything less, and they will be relying on the outcome between Mexico and Sweden.

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Luka Modric would win Ballon d'Or if he played for Germany or Spain, says Croatia team-mate Dejan Lovren

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Luka Modric (r) has been sensational so far for Croatia

Dejan Lovren believes his Croatia team-mate Luka Modric would win the Ballon d’Or if he played for Germany or Spain.

The Real Madrid midfielder has had a strong World Cup campaign so far, scoring in both of Croatia’s first two victories in Russia.

The Ballon d’Or has been won by five-time winner Lionel Messi, who was upstaged in the 3-0 defeat to Croatia and Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo in previous years with Modric never even making the top three.

“It is a real pleasure to play with Luka Modric, who is one of the best players in the world right now,” Lovren said at Croatia’s training base in Roshchino on Sunday.

“Modric would probably be getting more attention than he is right now if he was a German or Spanish player. He would maybe even be a Ballon d’Or winner.

“But because we are a smaller country, he does get less attention than he deserves. We are all football lovers and we know Modric is an incredible player.”

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Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic says Lionel Messi was 'powerless' against his players

David Cooper 22/06/2018
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A match to forget: Lionel Messi

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic insists Lionel Messi was “powerless” against his players in Argentina’s 3-0 victory on Thursday night.

The Barcelona star struggled to make an impression during the game as he was closely marked by Dalic’s troops in Russia.

Dalic hailed his players for keeping the Argentine captain quiet during the match.

“We were good. There was neither chance, room or time (with the ball) for Messi,” said Dalic, a former coach of Al Ain, on Friday.

“All was set for Messi to have neither room nor time. The main thing was to block the flow of the ball to him.

“He felt powerless, his body language was showing that he was powerless.”

Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric was one of the stars of the show, scoring the team’s second and Dalic was delighted he outshone Messi on the big stage.

“Everything is known about Luka, he plays every match for the squad at the highest possible level,” he added.

“To score a goal in such a match against Messi… It’s a reward, that Messi did nothing and he (Modric) did everything for Croatia.

“It is a reward for Luka, great motivation. You could see by his reaction after the goal what it meant to him.”

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