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Vicente del Bosque said that although things did not exactly go to plan against Croatia, he was thrilled that Spain advanced to the last eight as Group C winners. His opposite number Slaven Bilić, meanwhile, spoke of his pride at having coached a great team that he said can go home with their heads held high.
Slaven Bilić, Croatia coach
We had our plan. We were playing the world and European champions – a team hungry for trophies – and we tried to neutralise them. We were waiting for them at the back in the first half; we weren't keen to attack them at that stage. We waited for the last 30 minutes of the game to take risks. Spain had a hard time against us. We could have won tonight, we went close.
It isn't easy to play against them but we knew we would have two or three chances. We had a clear one with Rakitić. That's an opportunity you really have to take against Spain. We deserved a more positive result.
Our plan has not been achieved but my players can go home feeling proud. They were great, not just in this game but in the others too, in what was a very strong group. I didn't expect that this would be my last match. I was sure we would go through. But to play Spain is not easy, they are such a good tactical side.
I will leave here and join my new team [FC Lokomotiv Moskva] in the next few days, and I would like to say thank you to the Croatian Football Federation for taking a chance on me six years ago when I was a young coach without much experience. There were never any problems with the players or the staff in these six years. I enjoyed every minute. I will go on as a coach but will never be as proud as I am now because being national coach is a unique experience.
I may be leaving but I can assure you that you haven't seen the last of this Croatian side yet.
Vicente del Bosque, Spain coach
We were lacking penetration – they closed up the spaces well and that caused us a lot of problems. We had some nervous moments, especially when Iker Casillas made that save [from Ivan Rakitić's header]. We talked before the game and knew they were going to play the way they did. In the end my players resolved a messy issue that a draw might have represented.
It was a difficult win and one we had to battle for, as our opponents did. I think we had 17 shots on goal to their eight. We had more corners and more possession.
They played a good game and counterattacked with menace but I thought we were the better team. The changes I made [taking off Fernando Torres for example] were to give us a cutting edge on the right. Our first touch tonight maybe wasn't what it should have been though, and that caused the game to be a bit slower.
The result was a good one for our team. When you don't have your greatest game but manage to win, it gives you confidence. I have no preferences regarding who we face in the next round. We will just look to play well and resolve whatever issues arise out on the pitch.
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