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Zlatko Dalic explains why he subbed off Luka Modric before 2022 FIFA World Cup round of 16 penalty shootout win over Japan

Luka Modric has represented Croatia a whopping 159 times.
Luka Modric has represented Croatia a whopping 159 times.

Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic has claimed that he chose to take off Luka Modric during his team's recent 2022 FIFA World Cup penalty shootout win over Japan due to fatigue reasons.

The Vatreni progressed to the quarter-finals of the tournament with a nervy last-16 victory over Hajime Moriyasu's side on Monday (5 December). Daizen Maeda opened the scoring in the first half before Ivan Perisic restored parity in the 55th minute. Ultimately, the 2018 FIFA World Cup runners-up emerged triumphant 3-1 on penalties.

Modric, 37, produced a fine outing against the Samurai Blue before being replaced by Lovro Majer in the 99th minute. He completed 63 passes, registered one shot on target, won one tackle and two ground duels and made seven recoveries during the knockout fixture.

The dream continues. 🇭🇷😄 https://t.co/TOxw29shif

During an interview with AS, Dalic was asked about the reason for substituting his captain and two other crucial players. He responded:

"We communicated on the bench, we saw where the game was going. There had been a lot of wear. We were looking for smart solutions to save energy. Modric and [Mateo] Kovacic had squeezed themselves like Perisic. We believed in the players on the bench and they did well on penalties."

Sharing his thoughts on their next opponents, Dalic added:

"Brazil is the strongest and best team in the tournament. When you look at their players one by one, the depth of the squad and their quality, it's scary. We have a great test ahead of us, a team that competes and has so many good players. We will need to start the game well. We have nothing to fear."

Croatia are set to lock horns with five-time FIFA World Cup champions Brazil in their quarter-final clash on Friday (9 December).

🇧🇷🕺 Brazil put on a SHOW, reach quarter-finals of #FIFAWorldCup Croatia hold their nerve as Japan’s journey comes to an end 🇯🇵w/ @visitdubai https://t.co/R40LwF34jl

Brazil prove their mettle with last-16 win over South Korea at 2022 FIFA World Cup

After topping Group G with six points from three games, Brazil squared off against South Korea in the last-16 stage of the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Doha on Monday (5 December). Tite's side won 4-1 in the end.

Vinicius Junior opened the scoring in the seventh minute before Neymar netted his first goal in Qatar from the penalty spot six minutes later. Richarlison and Lucas Paqueta also got on the scoresheet in the first half. Seung-Ho Paik reduced the deficit in the 76th minute.

The Selecao are aiming to become the first non-European team to lift the FIFA World Cup trophy since their world triumph in 2002.

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Edited by Ritwik Kumar
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