Spirit of warriors: Dalic says his players will not be exhausted for their historic final against France.
After Mario Mandzukic scored in extra-time to give Croatia a 2-1 win against England in the semi-final, he ran to a corner of the pitch at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium to share his joy with his teammates. They came back from a goal down against England.
The 51-year-old made it his mission to change that and the results have been spectacular, most notably a 3-0 demolition of Argentina in the group stage, although the side has needed penalties to get past Denmark and hosts Russian Federation in the knockout stages.
"This is fantastic. Two players played with half a leg, but it didn't show".
The air was thick with tension during the strength-sapping extra-time as the two nations battled it out for an elusive winning goal. "We have a very strong collective and Croatia also have some big individual talents at the service of the team too".
"They want to win".
No photographer got closer to Croatia's World Cup semi-final victory than AFP's Yuri Cortez who found himself right under the pile of jubilant players.
Among the best was Marcelo Brozovic, the Inter Milan midfielder brought into the line-up to provide extra steel in front of the defence. We're tired but there can be no excuses: we've got to the semi-final, we're here to enjoy ourselves and give our all, we do not want to say we're worn out or exhausted.
"But we have our hearts, our pride and our players and that is what is really important to us".
Saturday's match is sure to feel like an unnecessary exertion to some, but it offers the chance to secure England's second-best World Cup finish as Sir Bobby Robson's semi-finalists lost their third-place play-off in 1990.
Dalic, who enjoyed a solid but unspectacular career as a midfielder in Croatia, was given the national job a year ago after success as a coach in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
"By the end several players were out on their feet and we were down to 10".