Croatia to work on defending set-pieces: Modric

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Ivan Rakitic is hoping this Croatia team can go a step further after matching the country's heroes of 1998 by making it to the semi-finals of the World Cup.

No-one expected Russian Federation to provide much fight against Croatia and it is to their huge credit they fought back deep into extra time to force penalties.

The Three Lions set up a last-four clash with Croatia on Wednesday in a 2-0 win over Sweden at the weekend.

Russia's most-capped player Sergei Ignashevich announced his retirement from soccer on Sunday after the hosts were eliminated by Croatia on penalties in the World Cup quarter-final hours earlier.

The hosts came into the tournament as the lowest-ranked team but have defied expectations by reaching the quarter-finals, defeating 2010 world champions Spain in the round of 16.


Former Croatia coach Slaven Bilic, meanwhile, said his country will be aiming to exploit England's weaknesses when they are not in possession.

After beginning his coaching career at the age of 28 with FC Vevey in Switzerland, Miroslav Blazevic managed several clubs, most notably Dinamo Zagreb, before taking the Croatia helm in 1994. But the team didn't get past the group stage of any tournament for the next decade.

At the blast of the final whistle, Croatia president Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic rushed into the dressing room to celebrate with the players.

"We trusted ourselves. We could only prove our worth by working hard", Cherchesov said.

"The fact that the president did not attend the matches [of the Russian team] does not mean that [he didn't cheer for the Russian football players]".


We watched the (England) game today and saw how good they are from dead-ball situations.

"I don't want to jinx it as we're not there, but I'd love it to happen".

"Putin called me during the day, and he called me right now", Cherchesov said.

Qatari organizers have had 180 staff in Russian Federation observing how to run a World Cup, and could keep one new feature in four years.

With the crowd silenced following an extra-time header from Croatia defender Domagoj Vida in the 101st minute, Russian Federation defender Mario Fernandes scored with his own header in the 115th to send the match to yet another penalty shoot-out.


After once again starring as Real won a fourth Champions League crown in five seasons by beating Liverpool in Kiev in May, Modric will be nearly assured of winning the Ballon d'Or if he can lead Croatia all the way to improbable World Cup glory. "Let's not be happy with what we have achieved and go ahead".

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