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France
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Croatia's Dejan Lovren: Nightmare vs. Harry Kane 'irrelevant' in World Cup semi

Free-Kick: France book World Cup final spot as England vs. Croatia looks set to be a battle of the midfield

Dejan Lovren insists his poor performance against Harry Kane and Tottenham Hotspur in October has no relevance ahead of Croatia's World Cup semifinal with England on Wednesday.

Lovren was hauled off after 31 minutes of Liverpool's 4-1 Premier League defeat at Wembley, with Spurs racing into an early two-goal lead as a result of errors from the centre-half.

But the 29-year-old, who was been one of Croatia's standout performers at this summer's tournament, has stressed that previous encounters with Kane have no bearing on the result of Wednesday's fixture in Moscow.

He told a news conference: "I don't know what to say in response to this question. It's completely irrelevant, that 4-1 defeat.

"Why didn't you ask me how I played well against him in other games? You're just nit-picking in terms of my performances."


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Lovren continued: "I have all respect for Harry Kane. He's been showing season in, season out that he's one of the best strikers in the Premier League. He's constant. He bangs in goals.

"He's one of the greatest threats, but he's not alone. His teammates play at top-drawer clubs. It's going to be a difficult task for all of us.

"But if we're ready to give our all on the pitch like we did when we played Argentina, if we will be compact, then I don't believe that there will be problems."

Lovren has featured in all five of Croatia's World Cup games so far and played the entirely of the team's two knockout fixtures with Denmark and Russia that went to a penalty shootout after 120 minutes of play.

"We've played five difficult games and I know they are tired but there can't be any excuses," he added. "We do not want to say we are exhausted, because there are still plenty of opportunities to exhaust ourselves.

"Of course, it's not the same if you play two 90-minute matches and two 120-minute matches, but I still believe we have had ample time to recover and we are professional enough to know who needs what with what kind of recovery.

"For me, I know I'm ready, and I can say the same for my teammates. We know what's at stake and at such moments you forget fatigue you may feel because this is a once in a lifetime opportunity -- it may never repeat itself again."

Glenn is ESPN FC's Liverpool correspondent. You can follow him on Twitter: @GlennPrice94.

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