Mario Mandzukic believes Croatia backed up their pre-tournament claims that they are a force to be reckoned with at Euro 2016 by securing a 1-0 win over Turkey in the Group D opener.
Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic were vocal in demanding Ante Cacic’s men go deep into the tournament and mark a defining achievement for a fine generation of Croatian talent.
Real Madrid midfielder Modric duly took the lead by netting a sumptuous 41st-minute volley at the Parc des Princes.
Mandzukic was among those culpable as Croatia failed to turn their subsequent superiority into further goals, but the Juventus striker was unconcerned by this profligacy after securing three precious points in a daunting group completed by Czech Republic and European champions Spain.
“We showed what we said – it is all up to us, because we have the quality,” he said.
It was the Croatia we want and expect people to see. I am not worried about goals; who would be happy if I score two and we lose?
“We created chances and could have scored more. Now we go to rest and let our Croatian people celebrate.
“The atmosphere was great. Without such fans and support you can not achieve something big.”
Mandzukic added: “Czech Republic has a lot of good young players. We will under-estimate no one.”
Providing the main support through the middle for Mandzukic was Rakitic – the most advanced of a midfield three and taking up a more attacking role than he typically enjoys with Barcelona.
“I do what my team needs, no problem about that,” he said. “The coach is looking for the best for all of us.
“It’s a position where I have played for a long time at Sevilla so I don’t have any problem.”
When it was ventured Croatia turned in the most accomplished display of the tournament to date in Paris, Rakitic looked to temper expectations.
“The best performance? You have to decide,” he added.
“We have to keep going on our way. We have to keep working because we’re going to face two very difficult teams.
“We have to see what happens in the other game, but we have to be quiet.”
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