Luka Modric admits Croatia need to overcome the fatigue factor if they are to beat England and reach a first ever World Cup final.
Croatia grabbed the last place in the final four on Wednesday after eliminating hosts Russia on penalties. It was their second shootout victory after getting the better of Denmark in the last 16.
But with a rejuvenated and youthful England awaiting in the semi-finals, captain Modric is concerned at how two back-to-back 120 minute games will affect the side.
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“We’ve played two times 120 minutes in six days and, of course, this will leave a mark on you,” Modric said.
“We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match against England. Every match at this World Cup is such. We have to enjoy this moment and then we have to prepare for England.
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“We watched their win over Sweden and we saw how good they are from dead‑balls. We’ll have to focus more on defending from set pieces because we conceded today from a set-piece. We’ll have to improve that element of our game.
“Maybe it is written in the stars that we have to go through this drama. It’s our second time in the semi-finals, after 1998, and it makes us extremely proud and happy.”