Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic is hopeful that Luka Modric will continue to play for his country much after the FIFA World Cup in Qatar and turn up for the small country at the Euro 2024.
“I hope he will be with us and I am looking forward to that. I am quite certain he will be. Luka Modric will decide personally how he feels. Knowing how he feels about the national team and about football, I’m pretty sure he will be but of course this is his decision,” Dalic said ahead of the third place play-off match against Morocco.
The two teams clashed in a goalless draw in the group stage, with Morocco topping the group over the 2018 runners-up Croatia, who came second while World No.2 side Belgium and Canada were knocked out from the group.
“The first match was the opening match, so it was important for both sides not to lose. It was played at 1pm and for both of us it was not convenient. Tomorrow will be a different match,” he said about the first group match.
“My overall sharp focus is on tomorrow and the third-place play-off. We want to employ our best efforts. We have repeated our success in successive World Cups and we want to achieve more. We have many challenges. I believe we have to have tomorrow’s match in our focus.
Dalic on his plans for Morocco: “You are right, they are really motivated. They can say that it is not that important for them, but I know it is. It is normal for them to care and want that bronze medal.
“We have to be smart. We have to concentrate on our own game and on our own style. We mustn’t have vertical passes. We have to be very protective and take care of Hakimi and Ziyech. They are very difficult to break. They concede only two goals, so we’ll have to be patient and wait.
“Croatia must also play a better game than we did in previous games.”
On comparisons between Croatia and Morocco and whether he expects Morocco to change their style: “Morocco resembles us from four and a half years ago. They have proven to be high quality and have shown unity and spirit. They have great support and deserve to be where they are. They went to a high level with every game and I think they’ll be a more challenging opponent than in the first game. They are of high quality and energy.
“It is a great final for us and them. I really respect them. I congratulate them on what they’ve achieved. they fear no-one. They will be a challenging opponent. It will be a difficult match.”
On selection problems faced by Croatia: “It’s the seventh match in less than a month. We’re tired, we’re exhausted and drained. We have consequences with injuries – Gvardiol, Juranovic, Brozovic – so we’ll see what happens during the day. Something always happens during the day, so we’ll be cautious.
“I ask the players to be fair to me and the national team and to report injuries and their physical status. Everybody wants to play and be part of this match but we’ll have to consider very carefully as we don’t want a situation where players are not 100 per cent fit who then may have to be substituted. This would be very difficult. If somebody is not 100 per cent fit. I know it’s difficult to admit to oneself, we’ll talk about it today.
Dalic on Morocco: “They are definitely the biggest surprise of this World Cup. When speaking about teams that could have done better, Spain, Germany, England and Italy, who didn’t even make it here. These are all great teams that could have done more.
“But this is a specific World Cup and the third-place play-off being played by national teams that are not the favourites or of which this is not expected.”
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