We could have been eliminated against Denmark [in the round-of-16 tie they won on penalties].
Although Croatia went on to suffer an agonising 2-1 defeat to host nation France in the semi-finals, they beat the Netherlands 2-1 in the third-place playoff.
Eric Dier has warned England will face one of the best players in the world tonight.
But on Wednesday night Dalic's players did even better, securing a historic first World Cup final for the country of about four million people.
Croatia and England are joined in the last four by France and Belgium after a World Cup at which several heavyweights, namely Germany, Brazil and Spain, were eliminated earlier than expected.
After finishing second to Argentina in Group H following victories over Jamaica and Japan, World Cup debutants Croatia claimed some impressive scalps on their way to the semi-finals.
Should England hold on for the win, the Three Lions will take on France in the final on Sunday. He said that what we showed on the field was great.
The penalty shootout win against hosts Russian Federation in the quarter-finals on Sunday seems to have gone a long way towards achieving that.
"I'm not thinking about it, only about my national team succeeding", he said.
France will have had 24 hours longer to prepare for the game after edging out Belgium 1-0 in 90 minutes in Saint Petersburg on Tuesday.
"We have already achieved something big by reaching the semi-finals". "Rakitic I haven't played against but I played against Modric twice this year in the Champions League and everyone knows what he did in the Premier League".