Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has called the Brazil team “scary” but says his team is not a big loser in Friday’s quarterfinal against the World Cup favorites.
Dalic’s team, runners-up at the 2018 World Cup, beat Japan on penalties on Monday to secure at least their third-best finish at the tournament.
The manager said on Tuesday that he was proud of his team for showing the character and mentality to go this far in Qatar, but he knows that Brazil will be a completely different proposition.
“Brazil has (more than) 200 million inhabitants, we only have four million, so we are a bit like a suburb of a city in Brazil,” Dalic said.
“It will be a different game than any we have played so far because Brazil likes to play football.
“If we look at it realistically, Brazil is the best team in the tournament, they have a great variety of players, a great team, it’s scary, so it’s a great test for us.”
Dalic said, “there is nothing better” than playing against Brazil in a World Cup.
“Maybe we would prefer it to be in the final than the quarterfinals,” he added.
“We want to give our best, we will not give up before the game. We want to counterbalance Brazil’s quality with ours and we want to play football against them.”
Croatia have revamped their squad in the four years since the last World Cup, with just a handful of veterans remaining, including captain Luka Modric and winger Ivan Perisic.
Dalic said this generation should not be compared to the team beaten by France in the final in Russia because it mostly included players from elite clubs.
“We already got a historic result after taking silver in 2018 and bronze in 1998, this is our third best Croatian result in a World Cup,” said Dalic.
“I would not make comparisons with the 2018 team, when you look at our players then, they played for clubs like Barcelona, Inter (Milan), Juventus, Liverpool, Real Madrid, of course.
“When you compare it to today, we have six players from the Croatian first division, it’s a different team.
“But my hat is off to this generation because they are playing very well.”
Brazil thrashed South Korea 4-1 on Monday with one of the best performances of the tournament so far, but Dalic believes his team can take on the five-time World Cup winners.
“Brazil is favourite, you can tell they have a great atmosphere in the team, they have world-class players, Neymar is back from injury,” added Dalic.
“We have to be very smart in our approach. We can’t open up too much against Brazil, but we can’t sit idly by either.
“It’s not 50-50, but we’re not big losers.”