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Perisic hoping greater experience will earn Croatia first trophy

Croatia wing-back Ivan Perisic hopes his team’s experience can give them the edge over a relatively young Spain side in the Nations League final on Sunday.

Along with the likes of captain Luka Modric, defensive midfielder Marcelo Brozovic and central defender Domagoj Vida, Perisic finished as World Cup runners-up in 2018 and third last year in Qatar.

Croatia have never won a major trophy in their history and the Tottenham wide man said their unity could be the key, although he would not accept the tag of favourites. 

“I think for a long time we’ve been the core of this team and have played for almost 10 years together,” Perisic told a news conference Saturday.

“The Spanish team has a lot of new, young players, but they play for great teams. 

“We’ve come second, third, and I’m sure we’ll find the necessary energy to go for what we’re missing — but we’re still talking about Spain, nobody is a real favourite against Spain.”

The 34-year-old, who has played 126 times for Croatia, says his country have been improving.

“We play great football, modern football, something that I like and we all like,” added Perisic.

“We’ve advanced our game from year to year. Spain have an interesting style, young players who will try to implement their game.

“I’ve heard there will be no neutral fans because Croatian fans have bought two-thirds of the tickets, they push us on.”

Coach Zlatko Dalic said the arrival of thousands of Croatian fans proved the team’s quality.

“It means the team has great value and we mean a lot to the people,” said the coach. 

“Bringing 25,000 Croatians to Rotterdam, that means we are a really good team.” 

Dalic thought the game was “50-50” and said victory would be a fitting reward to mark Croatia’s golden era.

“It would be a crown for the success of the entire generation,” said the coach.

“I believe the Croatian team has had consistency over the past few years and has become a football super-power.

“I’m happy we have great players that play in Europe, in great leagues, and we have a great Croatian league at home.”

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