Croatia’s World Cup success divides Balkan neighbours


Harry Kane ended the World Cup with six goals from six shots on target, but had just one shot on target in his final four games, which was his penalty against Colombia in the round-of-16.

'The culture of our national team was in tatters, with players boycotting the shirt.

The Premier League starts in less than a month, meaning numerous players who impressed at the World Cup may not be 100 per cent fit or in sparkling form when the next worldwide squad is announced at the end of August.

"I'm looking at all the previous World Cup finals and there has been 20 today and you have to go back to Uruguay in 1930 and 1950 to talk about a country of this type of small population making a World Cup".

The Croats, who have reached the World Cup final for the first time and will face France on Sunday for the title, have had the most success at the world's biggest soccer tournament since Yugoslavia descended into war in 1991 and spawned seven different Federation Internationale de Football Association nations. If we were to hold a tournament in ping pong all of us would be rooting for that single player.

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"In the end we are very proud of what we've done".

"It is certainly one of the factors that contributed ... that drove him to become one of the best in the world", said Marijan Buljat, who trained and played with the now captain of Croatia.

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"The players look forward to continuing that special relationship at their clubs, throughout our autumn internationals and beyond".

"He brought us calmness, he perked us up and what we most like is his sincerity and his attitude towards each and every player". "We try and find that balance of an environment where people can improve and learn and get better and recognise at the time you have to make selection decisions as well".

Ivan Rakitic said that Croatia will feel the support of their entire country when they face France in the World Cup final in Moscow on Sunday. "But from the second half onwards we played much better, and we showed our real standard", said Perisic. "We've got players that are going to mature over the next couple of years".

"For me, it should never be about you".

UPDATE: Both of our pundits grab the 10 points due to Belgium's win in the third-place game over England. It felt appropriate that it was the captain, and the Golden Boot victor, who therefore had the last word on England's involvement at this World Cup, contrasting it with the desperate mood after the last-16 exit against Iceland at Euro 2016.

"So the defeats have, I think, been hugely important for our development as well". We now need to be able to beat those teams on a regular basis, especially in tournaments'.

"We have nothing to train", said Dalic.