11/17/2018 10:03:25 PM

Fatigue Dalic's main concern for England clash

Fatigue Dalic

London, United Kingdom: Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic said Saturday he was worried his players would still be feeling the effects of their thrilling 3-2 win over Spain when they meet England in a decisive Nations League fixture on Saturday.

The 52-year-old, who will be without injured Barcelona star Ivan Rakitic, is yet to taste defeat to Gareth Southgate's side having memorably beaten them 2-1 in the World Cup semi-final and then fought out a 0-0 draw in Croatia in their opening Nations League encounter.

A win for Croatia would take Dalic's men to the semi-finals of the Nations League and send England down to League B.

"We totally respect the England team," Dalic told reporters on Saturday.

"We learned a lot in both matches. I'm more worried about our team because we played against Spain two days ago.

"I'll try to get the best from my players."

Dalic, who was a surprise choice for the Croatia job when he was plucked from United Arab Emirates outfit Al Ain in 2017, said his players would be up for the task given the historic stadium they would be playing in.

"We don't need to be motivated," said Dalic.

"We play at Wembley, one of the most important stadiums in the world."

Ivan Perisic, one of the standout performers for Croatia at the World Cup and the scorer of the equaliser in the semi-final win over England, said it had taken a while for him and his team-mates to get over their efforts in Russia which ended with a 4-2 defeat to France in the final.

Croatia had not scored in the Nations League until Thursday's remarkable 3-2 win over Spain, who had thrashed them 6-0 in their opening match.   

"Maybe it was too soon after the World Cup," said Perisic.

"That's why there was a little bit of a comedown.

"Tomorrow we will play how we know we can play.

"We will be very focused on the next Euro qualifiers but tomorrow against England we will try to play like we did against Spain."

'Added more depth' 

Midfielder Perisic, a target for Manchester United a few years ago, said it was in neither side's interests to settle for a draw on Sunday.

"Of course both teams need to win tomorrow," said the 29-year-old Inter Milan star.

"If not, Spain go through. If in the last 10 minutes it's still a draw both teams will try to win the match.

"It's difficult to say who is the favourite team. If we play our best like we did against Spain I think we can win the match."

His England counterpart Gareth Southgate says familiarity has not bred contempt but it has given him a fair idea of where to exploit their weaknesses.

"We know their style of play, we know their preferences, the areas that they build up, we know areas that we think we can try to exploit," he said.

"It's two really evenly-matched teams. Both games after 90 minutes have been draws."

However, Southgate -- whose side can progress to the finals of the new competition if they beat their opponents which offers the chance of qualification for Euro 2020 -- believes his side have progressed since the heartbreak of losing to the Croats in Russia.

"I think we've learned with every experience that we've had," he said.

"We've added more depth to the squad in terms of some more young players emerging, more competition for places.

"We've had a slight change of system which has also added something different.

"We've wanted to keep improving and I think the players have shown that mentality as well."

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