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View from Croatia: England’s semi-final opponents are in confident mood

Croatian fans are in confident mood ahead of their team's World Cup semi final against England. Picture: AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Croatian fans are in confident mood ahead of their team's World Cup semi final against England. Picture: AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Copyright 2018 The Associated Press. All rights reserved

Amid all our excitement about “football coming home”, England’s semi-final opponents are just as confident their team can claim a historic World Cup victory, writes EDP reporter Chris Hill in Croatia.

Replica Croatia shirts on sale in Dubrovnik Old Town. Picture: Chris HillReplica Croatia shirts on sale in Dubrovnik Old Town. Picture: Chris Hill

I arrived in Dubrovnik the day after Croatia’s dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Russia was watched by thousands of fans on a big screen in the city’s centre.

It was celebrated with every bit of the noise and passion as England’s quarter final win back at home. And even in a tourist hotspot like this ancient walled city, where Croats are outnumbered by visitors from every corner of the world, you can sense this proud nation’s growing belief that an even bigger triumph could be possible tonight.

Souvenir stalls are bursting with replica shirts bearing the names of Croatian heroes like Modric, Mandzukic and Rakitic – which are being snapped up and worn by tourists from every nation as they queue for ice creams or boat tours.

News stands and TV talk shows are obsessed with the national team’s prospects of beating England’s familiar Premier League stars.

And in the bars, English visitors are keen to chat football with their Croatian hosts. I heard one over-confident Brit explaining England’s superiority, and the supposed weaknesses in an ageing Croatian squad. His waiter simply smiled and said: “I think we will win.”

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