Croatia v England: Gareth Southgate on 'strange' experience at HNK Rijeka Stadium

Barcelona’s game with Las Palmas was played in an empty stadium because of unrest in Catalonia

Luka Modric has reiterated his comments that the English media underestimated Croatia ahead of their World Cup semi-final in Russian Federation.

Southgate's side were beaten by Croatia in Russian Federation earlier this year when they stood on the cusp of their first World Cup final appearance since 1966.

Gareth Southgate's side travel a tough Nations League double-header this month, kicking off at Croatia on Friday before heading to Spain.

"It wasn't meant to be the players or the head coach but more in regards to the media and some commentary we could read or watch".

"I played in Croatia a year ago for Everton in the Europa League and I know how hostile their fans are".

"We felt they disrespected Croatia".

"It was a little bit of extra motivation for the team, not that we needed any for a World Cup semi-final".

And while both Modric and coach Zlatko Dalic insist they're not accusing Southgate and his players of underestimating them, they're determined prove that was no lucky one-off. That is how we felt.

"Is it a problem for England?".

Dalic added: "I would agree with Luka though there is always a level of respect between the teams". That's something you have to answer yourself and analyse.

"You always need to respect your opponent, but also have a self-belief in your team and your possibilities".

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.

"We want to be pushing ourselves to beat these teams as part of our progression".

The Real Madrid midfielder repeated those claims as he spoke on the eve of the game at Stadion HNK Rijeka - a match that will be played behind closed doors.

"Players that, OK, in a lot of cases are relatively inexperienced at the highest level, but players we've enjoyed working with, have shown in training this week that they can handle this level".

"It's going to be tough non-football environment for both teams, it's hard to play in an empty stadium".

"They are great for their teams so I think it gives us the upper hand going away from home and when they need their fans, they haven't got them". We've obviously got a different team from the team that played in the semi-final and it's a good challenge for us.

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