Croatia coach Dalic says his side had extra motivation to beat England in semi-final

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The Croatia coach has spoken up on his side's win over England.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has echoed the claims made by Dejan Lovren and Luka Modric that his side had “extra motivation” to beat England on Wednesday because of disrespect from the English media.

Speaking after Croatia’s semi-final win over England, Lovren said he had been annoyed about questions related to a poor performance he had for Liverpool against Harry Kane‘s Tottenham last autumn, while Modric told ITV that “English journalists, pundits from television” had underestimated Croatia.

The Real Madrid star, who was repeatedly and universally praised in the British media in the build-up to the game, said they should “be more humble and respect opponents more”.

Speaking to reporters a day after his side’s historic win, Dalic said: “There is always some extra motivation and we always respect our opponents.

“Maybe the English team should have respected us more, especially when you consider where our players play their football, but this is football and sport.

“Maybe there was an element of extra motivation because of (comments in the English media), but there was also motivation to play in the final and make our fans and the country happy.”

Dalic was asked by international reporters if his side would be tired for Sunday’s final against France after playing extra-time for a third straight match – just as British journalists asked him if they would be tired after two lots of extra-time before the semi-final.

The 51-year-old gave a similar response, saying any fatigue his players might feel would be cancelled out by the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity they had to win a World Cup, although he did admit that Croatia have taken a “difficult path” and will effectively have played a game more than France, who also have an extra day to recover from their semi-final on Tuesday.

The Croatia coach echoed the sentiments of skipper Luka Modric.

The Croatia coach echoed the sentiments of skipper Luka Modric.

Asked if he was concerned about N’Golo Kante’s ability to stifle Modric or France’s ability to soak up pressure and then hit teams on the break, Dalic said he was aware of Les Bleus’ threat but was confident in his own players.

A former midfielder, Dalic repeated his claim that Croatia’s progress to Russia 2018’s final was “a miracle” considering the country’s population of just over four million people, its young but troubled history and the relative poverty of its domestic football infrastructure.

To illustrate this last point, Dalic said Croatia does not have a suitable venue to host England when they meet in UEFA’s new Nations League competition in October.

He was also asked about his own path to the final, having left Croatia in 2010 to coach a new side in Saudi Arabia. From there he moved to Saudi Arabia’s biggest club, Al-Hilal, and then took charge of the United Arab Emirates’ top side Al-Ain.

But after seven successful years in the Middle East, Dalic was given a chance to rescue Croatia’s faltering World Cup qualification campaign and the rest is history.

He said he had to go to the Gulf because European teams “look for brand names” and tended to go for “big names, big money, big mistakes”, whereas Croatian coaches have been underrated.

That may change now, especially if his “compact” and never-say-die side can beat France, who will be playing in their third World Cup final in 20 years.

“In my opinion, Lionel Messi is the best player in the world and Neymar is very close, but all those teams who relied on stars have gone home,” he said.

“We have been compact, united and have fought for everything and we are still in the tournament.”

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Skipper Kane believes England have reconnected with the nation after World Cup heroics

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Kane believes his England side can hold their heads high.

England captain Harry Kane believes his side has “reconnected” with the nation after reaching the World Cup semi-finals.

Defeat on Wednesday night to Croatia means football will not be coming home, but Kane says Gareth Southgate’s men can be proud of their performance at Russia 2018.

The 24-year-old Tottenham striker says this England side has overcome challenges which “haunted” past sides, after progressing further in the global tournament than any England side since Italia 90.

Kane wrote on Twitter to his 2.29million followers: “A lot of emotions today. First of all I’m so proud of this team and staff for giving everything we could over a long period of time together.

“We have overcome so many challenges that have haunted England in the past.

“We have reconnected with our amazing supporters and have enjoyed this incredible experience together.

“It wasn’t the outcome we wanted and as painful as it is right now, I’m sure we will learn an awful lot from last night’s game.”

England supporters at home and in Russia got behind Southgate’s men, reviving the Euro 96 anthem ‘Three Lions (Football’s Coming Home)’.

And Kane is relishing the future in a youthful team.

He added: “It’s time now to hold our heads high as a nation and be proud of each other.

“I’m excited to be part of this team and the challenge to improve going forward. Thank you all for your support!”

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Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren has last laugh over England captain Harry Kane

Alex Broun 12/07/2018
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Dejan Lovren got his revenge on Harry Kane

After two glaring errors by Liverpool star Dejan Lovren gifted Tottenham a 2-2 draw at Anfield in a crucial Premier League clash back in February, Reds fans around the world were calling for his head.

But now after a stand-out performance that saw Croatia come back from 1-0 down to defeat England in the World Cup semi-final in Moscow, the 29-year-old centre half has plenty of reason to smile.

Even better for the much-maligned Croat, his chief tormentor that night back in February – Harry Kane – was kept relatively quiet and off the score-sheet.

“This feels incredible, especially after everything that was said about us before the game,” said Lovren after the come-back win.

“We showed our character, we showed that we deserved to be in the final and people should respect us.

“Sometimes it is unfair. Before this game they said we are tired but we showed in extra-time we had fresher legs than them. Simple as that. The difference was mental.”

Dejan Lovren shows his joy after the victory over England

Dejan Lovren shows his joy after the victory over England

Lovren feels that after appearing in the Champions League final with Liverpool, and now the World Cup final, he has earnt respect rather than revilement.

“Sometimes, the criticism is unfair and people should respect me also,” he continued. “Without being arrogant I think I have [been proved to be one of the best defenders in the world]. Definitely.

“If somebody told me that from the beginning of the season that I would be in two of the biggest finals in the world I would have signed straight away.

“I went through a lot of s*** and I would say it is coming back.”

Lovren also revealed that Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp sent him a text him after the match.

The Reds manager told Lovren he was “proud” after seeing the defender help his side to a World Cup final against France.

“He’s [Klopp] proud of me and what I’ve achieved,” said Lovren. “He knows what I went through. He’s a good man. Even in tough times he was always backing me up. I appreciated that.”

Finally Lovren expressed his empathy for team mate Jordan Henderson who won’t be joining him in the final on Sunday.

“I am a little bit disappointed for my team-mate [Jordan Henderson] because he also deserved to be in the final. I wish we could both be in the final for that game but there is only one winner.”

It was different when Lovren and Kane met in the Premier League

It was different when Lovren and Kane met in the Premier League

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