That semi-final berth came in 1998, but they had a golden chance to go one better on Wednesday night when they met England at the Luzhniki Stadium.
It followed another humiliating defeat the previous year - Croatia lost 4-1 to England at home.
He went on to explain that when one plays a semi-final, it is impossible to be exhausted because there is too much at stake. "They showed from the games I've seen so far that they play direct football and they are very fast".
"I just felt they had a little bit more quality in certain areas".
Modric says his side will spend the days leading up to the semi-final clash. working on how to nullify England's threat.
Luka Modric has created history by leading Croatia to the World Cup final. "The most important for me is my team winning the World Cup".
Croatia's long periods of possession were largely unproductive, the final pass was invariably missing and they were surprised by Russia's aggressive approach. "And they were wrong because this team has a lot of character and we came out and showed it".
"We showed against them we were not exhausted, we dominated the game, physically, mentally in all aspects, we should have killed the game before extra time".
"Their journalists and pundits on television were talking prior to this match about us being exhausted, being the walking dead", Modric told beIN SPORTS. "We're not working much now so you can imagine what it will be like if we win". France scored two goals in its match against Uruguay, which has led to it facing off against Belgium - a team that beat five-time World Cup champion Brazil.
"Croatia has great players playing at the greatest clubs, but it is true we have not had good results at major tournament for decades", the coach said.
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