Croatia's run to the World Cup semi-finals may be a surprise to some, but coach Zlatko Dalic said his players had always been among the best in the world and are ready to go down in history as another golden generation when they face England on Wednesday.
After 95 minutes of play, the match went into extra time. Croatia cruised through their group without a loss but needed penalty kicks to defeat both Denmark and Russian Federation in back-to-back games in the knockout stage.
"We have a good opportunity to give them something back for 20 years ago when they reached the final", Croatia defender Dejan Lovren said.
France will have had 24 hours longer to prepare for the game after edging out Belgium 1-0 in 90 minutes in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday. "I'm very happy for my players, we showed character and the right mentality, it was very hard for us tonight".
"He is someone we are aware of and we have to be ready to control him". I'm sure everybody will be looking forward to it.
"France were in the final of the Euros - nearly they are used to being in these sort of big games, and I thought we coped with that side really well, so I don't want any of my players to be frustrated, disappointed".
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"We were a much better team than Russian Federation, especially in the second-half and extra-time, but we can not do without drama, it seems". But we aren't going to make excuses. We have played five games, but being exhausted can not be an alibi.
The dream ended for supporters in Moscow and at home as Gareth Southgate's men lost 2-1 to Croatia in the semi-final after extra time.
Dalic praised the attitude of his players against England, some of whom endured 120 minutes with "half a leg".
"Speaking at a news conference, Dier said: "[They are] two fantastic players, world-class players in their position. I have to tip my hat to our medical staff and doctors.
"There's no out and out stars and everybody just looks at them as young lads, making their way out, they've not got above their station". Two played with half a leg.