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Croatia’s Ivan Rakitic was full of praise for England ahead of their World Cup semi-final, for one reason in particular.
Rakitic scored the winning penalty for Croatia against Russia, repeating the same achievement as he did against Denmark in the game before.
Rakitic was the hero against Russia, converting the winning penalty just as he did in the round-of-16 shootout win over Denmark.
The Croatia team of 1998 reached the semi-finals of the World Cup before being knocked out by France as they went on to win the whole tournament against Brazil.
Barcelona midfielder was asked about facing England in the semi-final, and praised England, saying:
Ivan Rakitic: there is nothing more inspiring than playing World Cup semifinal against England, the country where football was born
— CroatianFootballNews (@CroatianNews) July 7, 2018
Croatia teammate Dejan Lovren, who plays at Liverpool after starting his career in England with Southampton, was also full of kind words for England, but was bullish about his own country’s chances:
“The English side are great and for that reason we have to show even more than we’ve already signed.
“We know we can do better. We know that we’re facing England for a place in the final and now we want to win the trophy.”
England will play Croatia on Wednesday night at 7PM GMT.