Winger Ivan Perisic has claimed the he will be prepared for “both versions of Russia”, when Croatia face the hosts in tonight’s quarter-final clash. Croatia secured a place in the last eight with a laborious round of 16 victory over Denmark, and Perisic believes that despite some minor setbacks, Croatia are improving with every game.
Croatia are perhaps England’s biggest threat in what is considered to be the ‘softer’ side of the World Cup draw. Since the very beginning of this summer’s tournament, Zlatko Dalic’s side have terrorized opponents with their unique brand of high-energy attacking football, besting the likes of Nigeria and Iceland, and Argentina. Their victory over Argentina was particularly impressive, with midfielders Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic dictating the game from the middle of the park.
Approaching their first knockout fixture against Denmark, Croatia had shipped just one goal. Yet the Danes proved to be a thorn in their side over 90 minutes, with Croatia needing extra-time and penalties to see off their opponents.
Croatia are now set for another tricky fixture, against one of the most stubborn teams still left in the tournament – Russia. The hosts have employed some contrasting tactics so far, demonstrating their ability to play fast paced attacking football against Saudi Arabia and Egypt, and setting up as a fierce defensive block against Spain.
“Against Spain they used a different system, but you must adapt to every team you play against. So they thought it was the best tactics for them, and I think they made the right decision. “We will prepare well for both versions. We still have a couple of days to prepare well.” said Perisic earlier this week.
Croatia will be hoping to replicate the success of the side that reached the semi-finals of the FIFA World Cup in 1998 – a memory that still burns brightly in the minds of the current squad. Now that they are just one victory away from achieving the same feat, Croatia fans are starting to believe that Dalic’s players can perhaps go one better.
“It’s a dream to be in a similar situation,” Perisic said. “Now is the time and hopefully we can achieve a similar result. We are really looking forward to the game against Russia.”