MOSCOW (Reuters) - Croatia forward Andrej Kramaric hopes he will be able to talk about their World Cup campaign for years to come, he said on Monday as his side prepared for their semi-final against England.
Kramaric said the pressure on his team had been lifted after they passed the round of 16, and they were now simply enjoying their World Cup adventure which has taken them to the semi-finals for the first time since 1998.
“The biggest pressure for us was in the game against Denmark in the round of 16....now we are enjoying what is happening,” he said.
“When the game starts, there will be a bit of pressure but we are enjoying the fact that we are here in the World Cup semi-finals.
“It would be a fantastic achievement for Croatia to play the World Cup final, it’s our dream and we will do the best to fulfil it,” he added.
Kramaric, who plays for Bundesliga side Hoffenheim, spent one year in England at Leicester City in their title-winning season but could not break into the team.
“My stay in England is a great story for me, my first time outside of Croatia, everything was really new. I didn’t play that much, it was difficult to get into the team because the team was doing really well,” he said.
“I could talk about that for days, however I would hope to talk about this World Cup for years.”
He also praised an England side he said was devoid of top names.
“England was one of the favourites for me because they have a young and hungry team with no big international movie stars,” Kramaric said.
“England play a different style than they did previously, they seem to be very attack-minded and it’s attractive football.”
Both Kramaric and team mate Mario Mandzukic were barred from answering questions about the sacking of coaching staff member Ognjen Vukojevic over a “glory to Ukraine” video posted after Croatia beat Russia in the quarter-finals.
Vukojevic and Croatia defender Domagoj Vida published the video on social media after the match on Saturday in a move which was criticised by Russian politicians and led to a warning from FIFA’s disciplinary committee.
Relations between Ukraine and World Cup hosts Russia remain fraught after the latter’s 2014 annexation of the Crimean peninsula and its backing for a pro-Russian uprising in the east of the country.
Reporting by Brian Homewood, editing by Ed Osmond