Croatia have had a long and stressful journey making their way to the semi-finals with their past two knockout matches won through penalties.
"(It was) at the beginning of working together with the lads and trying to sell them the vision of what's possible, what we're looking to achieve in the long-term.
The semi-final also represents a financial mismatch between the riches of England's Premier League and Croatian football.
But Dalic said: "I don't think England had easy opponents, they made it look easy".
With the pace of Sterling and others offering a threat from open play on top of England's nearly unrivalled threat from set pieces-they've scored eight from dead-ball situations in Russia-the Three Lions might just have the decisive edge in what should be a tight game.
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After 60 games we are down to just France, Belgium, England and Croatia remaining who can the win the 21st staging of the World Cup. With his absence, coach Martinez may have to change his formation.
Undoubtedly the back-to-back extra-time and penalty shootout the Croatians had had to endure in their Round of 16 and quarter-final matches will surely take its toll on the players. The powerful midfielders Modric and Rakitic will come out fierce, keeping England on their toes.
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In a World Cup where set pieces have played such a huge role and with teams becoming ever more cautious as the final approaches, that edge could prove the difference between England ending 52 years of hurt or falling at the penultimate hurdle.