Croatia's 'golden generation' failed to overcome the brilliance of Lionel Messi's Argentina in their World Cup semi-final, but they have one last chance to showcase their skills when they take on Morocco in the third place play-off on Saturday.
Messi inspired Argentina to a 3-0 win at Lusail Stadium on Tuesday and moved a step closer to lifting the one major trophy that has eluded him.
But for Croatia playmaker Luka Modric, this was almost certainly his last chance of winning the World Cup. He was substituted late on and left the field to applause from both sets of fans, who paid tribute to one of football's greats.
Coming through their group with a win over Canada and draws against Belgium and surprise semi-finalists Morocco, conceding only one goal along the way, the Croats showed they were a force to be reckoned with.
Their midfield of Mateo Kovacic, Marcelo Brozovic and Modric is considered one of the best in recent times. So much so, that teammate Josip Juranovic said it was "safer than having money in the bank".
Croatia beat Japan in a shootout in the round of 16 before delivering one of the shocks of the tournament by eliminating five-times champions Brazil in the same manner.
Before the semi-final defeat, Croatia had needed penalties or extra time in five of six knockout matches at the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.
However, the top prize has eluded them this time as well. But manager Zlatko Dalic said he was proud of the team
"I have nothing to blame the boys for, now we have to raise our heads and get ready for the [third place] game that awaits us," Dalic said.
"If someone had offered us this before the tournament, we would have accepted it. We are really proud."