Dalić and Gvardiol ahead of World Cup Round of 16: “We Can’t Underestimate Japan”

Daniela Rogulj

Updated on:

Slobodan Kadic
Slobodan Kadic

Croatia will play Japan at Al Janoub Stadium on Monday at 6 pm local time. There is a fantastic atmosphere within the Croatia national team. Apart from Borna Sosa, everyone else is fully prepared and focused on Japan.

Japan announced that they would enter the match like Samurai.

“We respect our opponent, the winner who defeated two world champions, Spain and Germany. In their defeats, they showed character and quality. We must not underestimate anyone. We know they will go into the match like Samurai; we won’t do any worse, either. We know what kind of opponent we are playing against and our mentality. We have to position ourselves in the same way. We will play with maximum respect for the opponent, so the pitch will show who is better,” Dalić emphasized at the beginning of the press conference.

He also spoke about Borno Sosa, who was not at yesterday’s press conference due to exhaustion.

“We have the last training, so we will see the situation. If Borna is not ready, we will not risk anything. We will look for a replacement. We are still waiting. We need players at full strength for tomorrow because that game will demand it. Regardless of choice, we are ready and will give our best. Whoever we have given our trust to has justified it so far,” he adds.

Joško Gvardiol said he was honored to join the coach at this press conference.

“I am honored that the coach took me to today’s conference. I hope it won’t be the last time I announce the match,” he said.

“I know the Japanese players very well. They present many problems, and when they are with the national team, they are a team that fights for the whole 90 minutes and will not give up until the end.”

They looked back at the 2020 Euros and being knocked out by Spain.

“That was the situation then. Joško came from the young national team, and we trusted him. You can’t become a player if you don’t have support. And then we endured some things and matured. Of course, there will be more mistakes and bad moments, but to become a real player, you must go through it all and play matches. I think that Joško justified our trust,” said Dalić. 

Gvardiol agreed.

“Everyone makes mistakes, and I made a mistake then. There were a lot of circumstances. Debut matches and jitters, but that’s behind us now. I am open to new challenges.”

They say the third time is a charm. Can Croatia win the World Cup?

“No one is happier for it to be than us. We will try; we have a chance. We believe in our dream. I’m always an optimist, but this competition is of high quality. We provide excellent results at World Cups. We are among the last 16 with the smallest population and the smallest country. We are a small country, but with big dreams. The goal is to go as far as possible. When Croatia plays and produces good results, our entire nation is happy, and I want it to last even longer,” Dalić said.

“The first step is in front of us, and when we pass it, we will look further. Croatia is successful, and the results are in the rank of a world miracle. This is our quality and our success. We continuously play well in big competitions. We have become a football superpower that everyone respects and must respect. A difficult match awaits us against an opponent who wants to prove itself. It will be difficult for us. However, we are happy to be here at the World Cup, that was our goal, and now the goal is to make the nation happy.” 

And finally – is this the last national team competition for Luka Modrić?

“Whatever I say about Luka, it’s too little. May God give him health, and may he last longer. I am sure that this is not his last competition for Croatia. His physique, training, work, and professionalism prove us right. He is a very important player. I don’t want to talk about individuals. After Belgium, there was talk about Gvardiol. We are a team. That’s the only way we can get a result. Not Luka or Gvardiol. The individual will jump out if the team is good. Luka is our captain and leader, let him continue,” said Dalić. 

Source: HRT

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