Luka Modric has admitted that Croatia are wary of England’s set-piece threat after his side secured their place in Wednesday’s semi-final in Moscow.
Modric captained Croatia to a penalty shootout success over host nation Russia on Saturday evening and they will meet Gareth Southgate’s side following their 2-0 victory over Sweden earlier in the day.
Harry Maguire’s goal against Sweden means England have scored eight goals from set pieces in their five matches so far – the most by a team at a World Cup since Portugal in 1966 – and Modric says Croatia are already thinking about that danger.
“We expect a very difficult, tight and demanding match against England, like every match at the World Cup,” he said.
“We have to enjoy the moment and we then have to focus on England. I’m sure we will prepare well.
“We watched the game today and saw how good they are from dead-ball situations. We will have to improve on our set-piece defending between now and Wednesday as we conceded from one at the end of the game today.”
After Lionel Messi’s Argentina and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal were eliminated from the World Cup at the last-16 stage, Modric has been tipped as a potential Ballon d’Or winner if Croatia can reach the World Cup final.
However, the midfielder, who celebrated his fourth Champions League with Real Madrid in May, insists his focus is on glory with his international team-mates.
“I’m not thinking about it (the Ballon d’Or),” he added.
“The most important thing for me is that the national team succeed. We’ve already accomplished something, but we can do more.
“Individual rewards are rewards for the effort you put in, but frankly I’m not thinking about that. We want to bring a medal home. What shine on that medal, we shall see.”
Croatia drew 2-2 with Russia after extra-time before triumphing 4-3 on penalties and Modric feels glory might be “written in the stars” for Croatia.
“Russia played a very good game, particularly the first half they surprised us,” he said.
“They pressed us very high and our style was cramped. We didn’t want to risk with passes that might have tipped the balance in our favour.
“In extra time we dominated and we were the better team. We should’ve finished the job before penalties but maybe it’s written in the stars that we have to go through extra drama.
“It was a difficult match and we had to run a lot. We had to replace injured players, but we created chances. After we went 2-1 up, we should’ve maintained our focus. Unfortunately we lapsed, but I don’t know if this was due to our fitness.
“I do believe we played a fantastic second half and at certain moments we lacked power. We’ve now played 120 minutes twice in six days so this will leave a mark on you.”