Croatia tired of underachieving at World Cup, says Vedran Corluka

Former Manchester City and Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka says Croatia have been “flattering to deceive” at recent World Cups and it is time for the squad to step up.

Croatia have made group stage exits in their last three appearances at the tournament, winning just two of their nine matches.

Their best performance came when they surprised the football world by reaching the semi-finals in 1998.

“We are tired of being billed as a talented generation which keeps flattering to deceive,” Corluka told the Croatian Football Association’s official website.

“We let ourselves and our fans down in every World Cup since the 1998 tournament, especially the last one.

“We have to focus on our strengths and use the good atmosphere in the dressing room as a platform.”

Croatia open their Group D campaign against Nigeria, followed by games against Argentina and Iceland.

Corluka, who has 97 international caps, is one of five centre-backs in coach Zlatko Dalic’s provisional 24-man squad and is aware that he faces a battle to make the final cut.

“We all have different qualities,” he said. “Some of us are quicker while others are stronger, but either way the coach will make the right decision no matter who he picks for the Russia-bound squad.

“The most frequent partnership I’ve had was with Domagoj Vida, but I’d be just as comfortable with Dejan Lovren who proved his worth after an excellent season at Liverpool capped by playing well in the Champions League final.”

Croatia will play warm-up games against Brazil at Anfield on June 3 and against Senegal on home soil in Osijek five days later.