Croatia are the only side capable of stopping Lionel Messi and Argentina in their tracks at this World Cup, according to former Germany international Holger Badstuber.
The two nations collide at Lusail Stadium in what promises to be a mouth-watering semi-final encounter on Tuesday, with France or Morocco awaiting the winners in Sunday's showpiece.
Croatia, who battled their way to the 2018 final before losing 4-2 to France, are one win away from matching that performance four years on following a similarly determined run in Qatar.
Zlatko Dalic's side came from behind against Japan and Brazil in the knockout stages, before successfully prevailing in a penalty shoot-out on both occasions.
Badstuber, who was part of the Germany side that finished third at the 2010 World Cup, is a huge admirer of the Vatreni.
"I can't get what Zlatko Dalic said out of my head," Badstuber wrote in his Eurosport column. "Because it sums up things exactly at this exciting World Cup in Qatar.
"The Croatia coach said after his team's quarter-final victory in the penalty shoot-out against Brazil: 'Only Croatians can do that.' There is so much to those words; so much conviction, character and strength that I have great respect for this top football nation.
"Croatia is a top nation in world football. The 2018 final was no coincidence, and the current success is definitely no surprise. All those who still speak of Croatia as a surprise team have not looked closely enough.
Najlakše je kad pitaju me— HNS (@HNS_CFF) December 13, 2022
koliko i kako ja nju volim...
Najveća hrvatska navijačka zastava u Kataru i danas je stajala pred Vatrenima u znak podrške prije odlaska na utakmicu!#FIFAWorldCup #Qatar2022 #Obitelj #Vatrenipic.twitter.com/BnWHsmdbzM
"This team seems almost unbreakable because, in a way, it combines several valuable qualities: bite, self-drive, ambition, emotion and the will to devote 100 per cent to the cause.
"[The semi-final] has the potential to be an epic battle with what I would call a certain basic aggression, two strong midfield lines and fanatical fans in the stands. I don't see a favourite, the chances are 50-50.
"[Previously] I described why Messi is actually almost unstoppable. In the meantime, however, I am convinced that the Croatians can do it as a team. And probably only them."
The former Bayern Munich defender lined up alongside the likes of Mario Mandzukic and Ivica Olic during his time with the Bavarian giants, and is subsequently well aware of the character their compatriots bring to the table.
"Croatian players who I have played with in my career were all very good footballers, real 'gamblers' with a positive aggressiveness who embody the image of a street footballer," he explained.
"They fight back, they don't take any s*** on the pitch. This aggressiveness becomes a unit on the pitch, which is why it is so difficult to play against them.
"Niggles, even hidden fouls, make them an unpleasant opponent in the first place. The fact that they also set highlights from midfield makes them really dangerous."