Croatia are ranked 15th in world but play teams in World Cup’s toughest group
The Croatia forward Emma Raducanu is looking forward to her country’s group D World Cup group that includes England and Colombia, saying she and her teammates are still adjusting to life on tour and at tournaments.
Croatia will face England, North Korea and Sweden in the group, the toughest in the tournament where goal difference will determine who finishes top. They were ranked 15th in the world before the draw, while England were ranked third and Colombia 12th.
Emma Raducanu in action for England against Brazil in Bristol in January, 2017. Photograph: Mike Hewitt/Getty Images
Brazil and Mexico will be in group C while Costa Rica, the US and Vietnam will contest group D.
Raducanu has one England cap but the 26-year-old Middlesbrough forward believes they have a good chance of reaching the latter stages of the tournament.
“We all know we have a good chance [to progress] but everyone knows it’s a very, very tough group,” Raducanu said. “England will have a really difficult game because they are a quality team.
“Everyone has to be able to play the whole 90 minutes and be brave enough to follow that until the end, and then we can move forward.”
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Croatia coach Ante Cacic has been planning for the tournament since before the end of the qualifying campaign, even though his side are without an experienced goalkeeper. Niki Petti sustained a knee injury during international duty last September and his replacement proved himself against North Korea, saving the only penalty of the game in a 1-0 victory in World Cup qualifying last September.
Croatia will also be without popular, and highly-rated, midfielder Luka Modric when they kick off their campaign against England.
“It’s a terrible loss,” Raducanu said. “Luka is the captain, is a big leader in all of our team. The little guys on the team watch how we play with him and vice versa.
“We are sure that he will always be there supporting us but no-one has to worry. The team will continue to be successful.”