"We've got to keep getting over those hurdles and I know we talked about the success of the younger teams but this is a much harder, much bigger level for the players and the belief is building as things are happening".
Lovren has been a defensive rock for Croatia at this tournament, however, and with his partner Domagoj Vida will be confident of shackling Kane and preventing him from adding to his tally of six goals at the tournament.
While Croatian players, who have been asked constantly about the generation of 1998 and never fail to express their admiration for the likes of Zvonimir Boban and Davor Suker, those comparisons are a weight they feel is unneeded.
Strong, mobile, indefatigable and good in the air, Mandzukic looks to make life as hard as possible for the defence, stretching play to allow the likes of Modric the space they need to get into the danger zone around the box.
Xabi Alonso, Xavi and Cesc Fàbregas are enjoying themselves on the ball too much for my liking and then it gets worse.
England: Here's something no one expected: England, the most neurotic of global soccer teams, might actually have reason to be confident. I've met quite a few of those players and we know exactly how they're held and perhaps, in the modern era, that would be even crazier.
With 14 goals in his last 11 games for England, Kane will not be short of confidence as he searches for his seventh World Cup goal, which would be the most scored by anyone at a single tournament since Ronaldo in 2002.
The mission? To support England's bid to win a first World Cup since 1966. That is what these guys have done.
England go into their semi-final at the Luzhniki Stadium with a fully fit squad and an opportunity tantalisingly within their grasp. But we felt it was important to learn from it, unpick it a bit, and find out why we'd gone so long without winning a knockout game. So we won't win the game just because Croatia had half an hour more football than us three days ago.
Croatia are a challenge for England.
It is the first time since 1998 that the nation of little over four million people have reached this stage of the competition, after they eliminated Russian Federation in a penalty shoot-out at the weekend. "Hopefully we'll go out there and implement our plan".
The manager, formerly the head of elite development and the under-21s coach, had played a key role in the Football Association adopting the England DNA blueprint after the terrible showing at the 2014 World Cup, a strategy which championed best practice in scouting, coaching, development and preparation of young players, and which is reaping rewards.
"I was not a renowned fashion icon through my playing career so it's rather unusual to be one now", Southgate joked.
"England are one of the favourites to win the World Cup and you have to respect that", he said.