Confidence is high within the Croatia camp after their Euro 2016 victory over Spain and Nikola Kalinic believes they can progress past Portugal in the last 16.
Ante Cacic’s side stunned the defending champions in their final match of Group D as a late Ivan Perisic goal secured a come-from-behind 2-1 victory and top spot in the section.
That set up a last-16 clash with Portugal after they were forced to settle for third place in Group F due to Iceland’s dramatic late winner in their clash with Austria.
Portugal needed to come from behind on three occasions to draw 3-3 with Hungary, with Cristiano Ronaldo finally finding form with two goals, becoming the first player to score in four European Championships in the process.
Even though Portugal and Ronaldo showed signs of their best attacking form in the Hungary draw, Kalinic is confident Croatia can navigate their way to the quarter-finals.
“Sure we could have got an easier opponent, but we have to face a high-quality team that has great individuals, but everything will depend on us, on our performance, and I believe we will win,” he told a media conference.
“Yes, we can [control the game], we are one of the best, if not the best team in the Euros. We have shown that in the group stage and again everything will depend on us, especially our midfield that is by far the strongest in the Euros and surely can deal with Portugal.
“We will dominate and I am sure we will progress.”
Keeping close tabs on Ronaldo could prove difficult given he appears to have returned to form with his double against Hungary, but Kalinic – who scored Croatia’s first goal against Spain – expects Cacic’s coaching team to come up with a plan to nullify his threat.
He added: “Sure Ronaldo is one of best players in the world and he has shown that in the last match.
“They depend on him a lot, and mostly wait for what is he going to do.
“It is not easy to mark him, but we will analyse him to find the way to stop him.”
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