1-on-1 with Croatia stalwart Dejan Lovren

Croatia might only be a country of just over 4 million people, but their stalwart central defender Dejan Lovren says their football team is packed with "big talent" who will punch above their weight in Russia.

Posted: Jun 19, 2018 6:23 PM
Updated: Jun 19, 2018 6:25 PM

It's been 20 years since Croatia not only burst onto the World Cup scene, but also since they advanced beyond the group stages and achieved their best result by reaching the quarterfinals.

Each year anticipation has grown as to whether Croatia's squad will finally meet the expectations set in France two decades ago.

However, 28-year-old Croatian and Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren points out Croatia hasn't been doing too badly at all given the size of the country.

READ: The World Cup in Numbers

"We are a small country, only four million people and we have big talent in our squad," he told CNN Sport in an exclusive interview.

"You look at which payers (are) playing and (from what) teams, it's quite amazing."

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This year the squad is made up of Real Madrid's 32-year-old midfielder Luka Modric, who has not only lifted the Champions League trophy four times, but is arguably the star of the Croatian team.

Then there's Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitić who boasts over 90 caps, as well as robust Juventus striker Mario Mandžukić who will be play a key part in making an impact in Russia.

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With Croatia failing to advance beyond the group stages since 1998, the pressure is on -- and their section is a tough one. Croatia will face Nigeria on June 16, Argentina on June 21 and Iceland on June 26.

Visit CNN.com/sport for more news and features

"To be part of the World Cup is already an achievement but we believe in our quality and we know that we if can get through the group stages we can go far," Lovren said.

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