Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic has praised his side after they dismantled Argentina 3-0, qualifying for the last 16 of the World Cup in the process – the first time the country has progressed beyond the group stages since 1998.
Three second half goals from Ante Rebić, Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić decided the tie, earning Croatia their second win from two games. It was an excellent performance from the perceived underdogs, who were more than worthy of the win.
Argentina were below par throughout the match but Dalic decided to focus on how good his side were rather than how poor the opposition was.
“From day one I’ve trusted my team,” he told reporters, as per STV. “I didn’t believe we would be through after the second game, but I believed we would be through eventually. Argentina weren’t confused, we were excellent.
“We’ve emerged from the group after two games. We’ve beaten Argentina with the best player in the world – Messi – and we played a fantastic match, everything was top notch.”
The performance will give Croatia serious belief that they can make it far into the tournament, particularly as it looks likely that they will finish at the top of the group, but Dalic was quick to remain grounded ahead of their upcoming matches.
“However, we have to be calm, humble, dignified, put in a good shift in a disciplined and responsible manner and as a team. I want my 22nd player in the squad to be as good as my first.
“Hunger and desire for victory: this is the only way we can achieve something. No one is happier than I am but I have to be calm, composed and keep my feet on the ground.”