Croatia skipper cools tensions

Captain Darijo Srna insists Croatia are approaching their World Cup qualifier against rivals Serbia in the same manner as any other game - despite the wider significance of the Group A fixture.

Last Updated: 21/03/13 at 15:21 Post Comment

Darijo Srna: 'We all know that this is a special game'

Darijo Srna: 'We all know that this is a special game'

Friday night's encounter in Zagreb is the first time the two countries have played each other in an international football match as independent states and is sure to be a highly-charged affair.

Aside from its political and historical significance, the match could also have a big impact on both teams' respective hopes of reaching next year's World Cup finals.

A Croatia victory at the Maksimir stadium, for which only home fans will be admitted following an agreement between the two national federations that will be repeated in the return fixture in Belgrade, could give them the outright lead in Group A, depending on how Belgium get on.

However, a Serbia win would see them close to within three points of their Balkan rivals and breathe fresh life into their hopes of reaching Brazil.

Regardless of everything surrounding the encounter though, Croatia defender Srna says his side will not be doing anything different in their preparations.

"We all know that this is a special game, but we are preparing as we did for Wales, or as we did in Scotland. Our goal is to go to the World Cup in Brazil, to get as many points as we can and we are all ready for it," he told reporters.

Serbia midfielder Radosav Petrovic said it was the same for his side.

"Tactical preparation for the match in Zagreb is no different and should not be different in relation to the preparation of other games," he said.

"Our task is to retain the conditions to which we are accustomed."

Croatia are currently level on 10 points with Belgium at the top of Group A.

Belgium face back-to-back fixtures against fourth-placed Macedonia with star man Eden Hazard keen to replicate his recent form with Chelsea at international level.

"I have to perform to the same level with the Red Devils as I do with Chelsea," he said. "The most important thing is to win these two games against Macedonia. When travelling, games are always difficult but on Friday we must not forget to play and build on our strengths."

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rilliant article. Anything that makes a man of Scolari's age wear a cap with a hashtag on it will surely precede a disaster

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