Croatia boss aims thinly veiled dig at England in passionate defence after Spain defeat… as he questions Three Lions’ Euro 2024 favourites tag

  • Croatia lost 3-0 against Spain as they underwhelmed in their first game of Euros
  • England, meanwhile, beat Serbia 1-0 and have been backed to win tournament
  • LISTEN to It’s All Kicking Off! Chris Sutton reveals all on why he SLAPPED David Beckham 

Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic has had a pop at England following his side’s defeat against Spain at Euro 2024.

Dalic’s side got their tournament off to the worst possible start on Saturday, losing 3-0 having trailed by the same scoreline at half time in the game, managing to keep it as it was in the second half.

Their hopes of reaching the knockout stages aren’t over, however, with Italy and Albania left to play in the groups, though they can hardly afford to slip up again given the goal difference hit they took in their opening match.

Dalic, who has been in charge of Croatia since 2017, has come out swinging before their tie against Albania on Wednesday, however, defending his side and pointing to their achievements from the last few international tournaments.

In doing so, he namechecked England, who many are tipping for success in Germany, insisting his side have been more successful than Gareth Southgate’s outfit but aren’t as fancied.

Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic has criticised England following his side’s defeat by Spain

Croatia lost 3-0 in their opening match of Euro 2024, with Dalic slamming the ensuing criticism

Croatia lost 3-0 in their opening match of Euro 2024, with Dalic slamming the ensuing criticism

He pointed to England's favourites tag and their lack of success in recent tournaments

He pointed to England’s favourites tag and their lack of success in recent tournaments

‘We are always the dark horse, we are always not among the favourites, nobody believes in us but in the past six years we have won three medals,’ he said. ‘After France, our national team is the first team to have done this so I always keep saying that Croatia deserves greater respect from everyone else for what we have managed to do.

‘We have won three medals, England won one 50 years ago but they are a great team, we are not, we are always the dark horse. We are little but we are brave, we will fight and we have the evidence of thousands of Croats in Berlin. We are a nation that is entitled to feel proud and our results show that we are better than our perception.

‘I know after this defeat [against Spain] there is a lot of pessimism and negativity but we will give our best and we are doing the best to be the best we can. Everything we have done in the past six, seven years, we have to look at that and feel proud. Croatia is much better than is said and seen in the public.’

Croatia have never won a major trophy, but have come close in recent years, finishing runners up to France in the 2018 World Cup, finishing third in the 2022 edition and losing to Spain on penalties in the final of the most recent Nations League.

In the 2018 World Cup, they beat England on their ways to the final, where they went down against France, losing 4-2 in the final in Russia.

Croatia also came out on top in the last game the two sides played, winning 1-0 in the Nations League back in 2021.

Their result against Spain however has left fans questioning their credentials for Euro 2024, with a number of players in their squad at the back-end of their careers after helping their side to success over the last few years.

England, meanwhile, are favourites to win the tournament despite not winning a major trophy since 1966, and won their tournament opener against Serbia on Sunday night. 

England came up short against Croatia in the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup in Russia

England came up short against Croatia in the semi-final of the 2018 World Cup in Russia

Southgate's side did, however, win their opening game of Euro 2024, beating Serbia on Sunday night

Southgate’s side did, however, win their opening game of Euro 2024, beating Serbia on Sunday night

In 2020, they finished runners up to Italy at the European Championship, falling short on penalties on home turf at Wembley.

They also finished third in the Nations League in 2019, but there are high hopes for success in Germany come the end of the tournament on July 14.

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