For years, the warning was clear. Never write off the Germans. Now the phrase needs reworking. Never write off the Croats. Behind in all three knockout games, missing their first penalty in the shoot-out against Denmark and their second against Russia, they are the team everyone else just cannot finish off.
The great survivors have a propensity to be the last men standing. Even as they are exhausted, Croatia find something deep within themselves to complement their considerable quality.