Zlatko Dalić Reflects on 2018: “We Breathed as One”

Daniela Rogulj

Croatia national football team coach Zlatko Dalić was a guest of HRT ahead of the Champions League games on Wednesday. The respected coach reflected on his time at the helm of the national team through the World Cup in Russia and the Nations League against Spain and England. 

“There is a lot of obligation, a lot of things, but they are all good things, nothing is too difficult for me,” the coach began for HRT on November 28, 2018

“I am always positive and optimistic, and for me, there is no place for negativity. As far as football is concerned, we are second in the world, Dinamo will play in Europe in the spring, Luka Modrić will be the best player in the world… We were disappointed by the Nations League because we were relegated from the top group, but at least we have retained the status of a top seed for the Euro qualifiers,” said Dalić.

Anton Samovojska asked Dalić how he managed to get into the heads of players and persuade them to fight with every last atom of strength during the World Cup. 

“It was a great group of players, though they as a team were never so successful. There was a bit of luck here. When I took over the team, I asked myself why such high-quality players did not have results proportionate to their quality. I put my ego to the side, their ego to the side, and the first goal was to get through the group. The key was Denmark; if we lost that game, we would have done nothing. We were a group who breathed like one, we did everything together, we are the second in the world, though we are still disappointed because we could be the champions of the world,” explained the coach and continued:

“We raised the ladder very high, we are the second best in the world and there is no return. Now everyone is going after us, and it’s not easy to defend. It will not be easy, and the next European Championship will be stronger than the World Cup. It is up to us to make up the selection, with rejuvenation, to bring younger forces and new energy, but, of course, the seniors will remain.”

Dalić gave his opinion about the Nations League.

“It’s better to play against England and Spain than some of the weaker opponents, but it just came to us too soon. I think the Nations League has a perspective. I really am sorry that we played against England two and a half days after Spain, who knows what it could have been.”

“Our goal is to place in the European Championships, we know our goal and the way there, we know our strength, we respect everyone but believe in ourselves,” said Dalić when asked the question about desirable rivals in the fight for the Euros. 

“The younger players coming to the national team must be playing for their clubs. A good example is Vlašić, who has gone from Everton and plays great for CSKA,” answered Dalić.

You can watch the entire interview on HRT here

To read more about Zlatko Dalić, follow TCN’s dedicated page here


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