Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has said his side have already “managed to stop Messi” and so can cope with England’s Harry Kane in Wednesday’s semi-final.
The teams meet in Moscow to compete for a place in the 15 July final after Dalic’s side overcame hosts Russia on Saturday.
Dalic identified top-scorer Kane and Raheem Sterling as threats in a team with “no glaring weaknesses”.
“But we believe in our strengths,” he said. “We don’t fear England.”
“He [Kane] is top scorer – he’s not easy to stop. But we have top centre-backs. We managed to stop Messi and [Christian] Eriksen so hopefully we can stop Kane.”
Having not scored in an England shirt for nearly three years, Manchester City forward Sterling has been criticised by some supporters and pundits.
However, ex-England and Manchester United pair David Beckham and Gary Neville have voiced their support for the 23-year-old and Dalic also rates him highly.
The 51-year-old coach, who has only been in charge of the national side since October, was asked about England’s strengths and weaknesses and said: “I wouldn’t say there are any glaring weaknesses – they are in the semi-finals, that says it all.
“They showed from the games I’ve seen so far that they play direct football and they are very fast.
“They are really good at set-pieces and their tall players are dangerous at corners.
“I think Raheem Sterling is an important player because he is really fast and his combination with Harry Kane is really dangerous.”
He went on to further praise Sterling’s “pace and power” and said his coaches would be analysing Gareth Southgate’s team closely over the next two days.
“They dealt with Sweden relatively easily so we know they are going to be a difficult opponent and we respect them,” he continued.
“But we believe in our strengths too. We don’t fear England or anybody else.”
Croatia’s shoot-out victory over Russia was their second straight win on penalties at the World Cup, after they beat Denmark in the same fashion in their last-16 tie.
Vida escapes ban for ‘Glory to Ukraine’ shout
There is relief in the Croatia camp after defender Domagoj Vida was warned by Fifa, avoiding a possible ban, for appearing to dedicate their win against Russia to Ukraine in an online video.
Vida, who scored in extra time before his side’s win on penalties, shouted “Glory to Ukraine” in Ukrainian.
The slogan was a rallying cry during the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, which was followed by the Russian annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.
Vida later said he was joking and “the victory is for Croatia, no politics”.