Luka Modric has warned England to prepare for a backlash as he revealed Croatia’s players still feel resentful about how they were perceived at the World Cup.
The Real Madrid midfielder was outspoken in the wake of the World Cup semi-final, insisting Croatia had been underestimated.
He was given the chance to clarify his comments on Thursday night but reinforced his view that the rhetoric before the game in Moscow had simply geed him and his team-mates up.
Croatia come into this Nations League game in Rijeka on the back of a 6-0 thrashing by Spain and it is a result they want to banish as quickly as possible.
With England back in the firing line, Modric is anxious for Zlatko Dalic’s side to reassert their superiority.
‘We felt a bit disrespected, not appreciated as much as we deserve,’ said Modric, who stressed his comments were not aimed at Gareth Southgate or England’s players.
‘It was extra motivation for our team, even in a World Cup semi-final when you don’t need extra motivation.
‘That’s how we felt. That’s how I felt. Is that a problem for England? That’s something you have to answer yourself and analyse.
‘We want to feel better about ourselves (after losing so heavily to Spain). We’ll see if England are better than during the World Cup.
‘They have a lot of the same players, but, with some injuries, some new ones too. It will be tough. It’s a strange environment for both teams, playing in front of an empty stadium, but it’s important for us to achieve a good result. It’s hard to play without fans, but we have to adapt to that.’
Modric was crowned the world’s best player on the back of his magical performances in Russia.
His standing in the game is beyond question but he believes his former Tottenham colleague Harry Kane, who won the Golden Boot, is now alongside in the same bracket of performers.
‘If you look at the number of goals he has scored for Tottenham,’ said Modric.
‘He has took them into the Premier League title race, which isn’t easy because other clubs are investing more money, then he’s proved himself one of the world’s best forwards already.
‘If he continues to develop, he can achieve even more, but he’s already one of the best in the world.’