Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic is confident his side will handle the atmosphere when they face hosts Russia in their World Cup quarter-final on Saturday evening.
Dalic’s side will come up against a partisan Russian crowd in their last-eight tie in Sochi but he remained upbeat on their chances of progressing to face either England or Sweden in the semi-finals in Moscow.
“We cannot choose our opponents, hosts or otherwise,” said Dalic. “We are facing a huge game in the quarter-finals and it doesn’t matter who the opponents are.
“The only difference is they will have vociferous fans but every week our team plays with opposing fans howling at them. It shouldn’t be a problem.
“We will not be looking for excuses. We have to play our own game regardless of who is in the stands.”
Croatia will go into the game as favourites, despite Russia having confounded the expectations of many by making it out of Group A and defeating 2010 champions Spain in the last 16, but Dalic is not underestimating the home side.
“We have a great deal of respect for them,” he added. “You can’t reach the last eight of the World Cup if you don’t have quality.
“If you beat Spain, then you deserve your place among the eight best teams in the World Cup.
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“I can’t tell you their gameplan or tactics – but I know our gameplan. We have to repeat what we have been doing in the last four games, be well organised and defend well.
“We have to be united, go forward and apply pressure. We have the strength and quality to do that.”
Victory would see Croatia emulate the achievement of their 1998 side in reaching the semi-finals.