Luka Modric has reiterated his comments that the English media underestimated Croatia ahead of their World Cup semi-final in Russia.
The newly-crowned FIFA Best Men’s player accused the media of failing to give Croatia the recognition they deserved in the build-up to July’s 2-1 extra-time victory in Moscow.
Three months on from that victory, England and Croatia meet again behind closed doors in Friday’s Nations League clash in Rijeka – live on Sky Sports Main Event.
Speaking in a pre-match press conference, Modric was keen to clarify his criticism was directed towards the media and not Gareth Southgate or his squad.
When I said that after the game it was not meant to be about the players or the head coach but more in regards to some media and commentary that we read and watched, the Real Madrid midfielder said.
We felt a little bit disrespected and not enough recognition we thought we deserved.
It was a little bit of extra motivation for the team, not that we needed any for a World Cup semi-final. That’s how I felt.
Is it a problem for England? That’s something you need to answer for yourself and analyse.
Modric’s claims were echoed by Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic, who added: I would agree with Luka that we felt a little underestimated by the English media, not the head coach or the players.
There’s always a level of respect between the teams. You always need to respect your opponent but also have a self-belief in your team and your possibilities.
Friday’s game presents both Croatia and England with the opportunity to get their first points on the board in Nations League Group A4 following opening round defeats by Spain.
World Cup runners-up Croatia were thumped 6-0 in Spain last time out, a result Modric is keen to draw a line under against a strong England side in testing circumstances.
Tomorrow is an important game, especially after the game against Spain. We want to feel better about ourselves, he said.
We’ll see if England are better than they were in the World Cup, they have a lot of the same players but also some new ones and some injuries.
It’s going to be tough non-football environment for both teams, it’s difficult to play in an empty stadium.
But it’s important for us, we want to play as well as possible to achieve a good result. It’s hard to play without fans but it is what it is and we need to adapt to that.