England’s Harry Kane said his team had been opened up and left “gutted” at the 2-1 extra-time loss, but the striker will feel like salt was rubbed into the wounds when he reads what Croatia defender Šime Vrsaljko had to say.
According to Reuters journalist Simon Evans, Vrsaljko claimed that, contrary to popular opinion, this was not a new-look England team. He said as soon as Croatia got the upper-hand in Wednesday’s semifinal, England reverted to old, inferior tactics that included hoofing the ball from defence to attack and simply hoping for the best.
“The all-round perception was that this is a new-look England who have changed their ways of punting long-balls upfield,” Vrsaljko said. “But when we pressed them it turned out that they haven’t.”
Vrsaljko was not the only one to twist the knife, as midfielder Luka Modrić also tore into England, English journalists, and English pundits on television.
It was suggested before the game, by Business Insider and even Croatian reporters on FIFA, that Croatia would be encumbered because of the back-to-back extra-time matches it had to play ahead of the England game. So after beating the English, Modric wanted to send a clear message — and that message was for the English to be humble.
“We’ve proved everything different than what people were talking,” he told ITV. “Especially English journalists, pundits from television, they underestimated Croatia tonight and that was a huge mistake.
“All these words from them we take, we were reading, and we were saying, ‘Ok, today we will see who will be tired.’ They should be more humble and respect more opponents. We showed we dominated physically, mentally, in all aspects. We should have killed the game [earlier].”
Finally, Croatia defender Vedran Ćorluka had only four words when asked if he had any thoughts regarding the 2-1 victory over England.
Without stopping to converse with English journalists, he simply said: “It’s not coming home.”