After having defeated Denmark on penalties in the Round of 16, Croatia now faces hosts Russia in the quarterfinals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup on Saturday evening.
There is no doubt that they are the better team than the Russians on paper, yet the same was true against Denmark and the Vatreni almost came up short.
When one looks at every position on the field, the Croatian players are objectively better and by some distance too. The only question is, will their individual superiority be enough against a Russian team that is much greater than the sum of its parts?
If the answer is yes, then the sky is the limit for Zlatko Dalić and his squad. If it is no, then they could easily be eliminated and on their way home this weekend.
If the latter scenario comes to pass, there will be disappointment all around, among the players, the fans and the Croatian media. That will be so, despite all positives throughout the tournament, because everyone will no doubt know that much more would have been possible.
Beyond that, this will have been the last chance for the leaders of this golden generation to do great things in a Croatia shirt.
Two characteristics about this team have helped it immensely during this competition. One is the pressure under which they were to perform for the first time since finishing third at the 1998 World Cup, the other is the humility that comes with twenty years of failures.
Having reached the quarterfinals, both the pressure and the humility seem to fade now. There is a sense of confidence around this Croatia team at the moment, perhaps even overconfidence. That is a dangerous sign.
But again, if they perform to the level they can, they will succeed. Sweden or England would await in the semifinals in that case.