Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic described their World Cup quarterfinal opponents Brazil as “terrifying” but backed his resolute side to rise to the enormous challenge they face.
Croatia overcame Japan on penalties on Monday following a 1-1 draw after extra time, before tournament favourites and five-time champions Brazil sent an ominous message to their rivals with a dazzling 4-1 victory over South Korea.
Dalic, who led Croatia to the 2018 final, had said after the win over Japan that he would prefer to meet South Korea rather than Brazil for a place in the semifinals.
“Brazil is the favourite, let’s face it,” Dalic told reporters on Tuesday. “Brazil is the most powerful and the best national team at the World Cup.
“What I’ve seen so far, when you take a look at their selection of players, their quality, skills and value, then it is indeed terrifying.
“I think we have a great exam ahead of us, a tough task against the team which plays great soccer with so many good, quality and fast players.”
At the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Croatia came from behind three times to advance after extra time in the knockout rounds before losing to France in the final.
They beat Denmark and Russia on penalties and saw off England in extra time en route to the final and that resilience was needed again to subdue a battling Japan side.
“Brazil have self-confidence, a splendid atmosphere in the team, which is visible, as well as top players... However, we will not give in. I think we have nothing to fear,” Dalic added.
“We need to enter the match with much faith, self-confidence and looking for our chances, enjoy the occasion of playing Brazil, that’s it. (It’s) too early, if only it were the final.
“It is a great team, but I believe that we can challenge them, we need to be smart... The match is not 50-50, but we are also not outsiders.”