Dejan Lovren believes his Croatia team-mate Luka Modric should be in Ballon d'Or contention.
Real Madrid midfielder Modric has been at his sublime best so far at Russia 2018, steering Croatia to qualification for the knockout stages with a game to spare.
His superb second goal during the 3-0 demolition of Argentina in Nizhny Novgorod provided the champagne moment within one of the tournament's statement victories.
Modric also converted a penalty during the opening 2-0 Group D victory against Nigeria and Lovren feels the 32-year-old would be pushing for top individual honours if he was from a more traditionally glamorous footballing nation.
"It is a real pleasure to play with Luka Modric, who is one of the best players in the world right now," he said during a Sunday news conference at Croatia's Roschino training base.
"Modric would probably be getting more attention than he is right now if he was a German or Spanish player. He would maybe even be a Ballon d’Or winner.
"Because we are a smaller country, he does get less attention than he deserves.
"All football lovers know Modric is an incredible player. He is one of the best in the world right now."
Who will prove the best in the world collectively when the World Cup concludes in Moscow next month remains a fiercely debated subject, with matters clouded by an opening 10 days that have often veered from the form guide.
Holders Germany were staring at the prospect of an early exit until Toni Kroos sensationally snatched a 2-1 win over Sweden for Joachim Low's 10 men deep into stoppage time on Saturday in Sochi.
Brazil also required a late show for their first win of the tournament – Philippe Coutinho and Neymar downing Costa Rica in St Petersburg after the regulation 90 minutes.
Lovren proudly claimed to have watched every game of Russia 2018 so far and he spies a wide-open field that may play into the hands of an accomplished and experienced Croatian generation.
"It has been a surprising tournament and there are no favourites right now, or no teams that are likely to be easy winners," he added.
"We must respect teams like Germany, Brazil, Spain and Belgium, who are all incredible teams.
"Right now, no one is showing on the pitch that they are far superior than any other team.
"Croatia is a dark horse, a bit of an underdog, but we have to show we play well and we hope to continue to play well."
|Cubs, Baez give young fan signed baseball after adult steals foul ball|
|To those who enjoy seeing others fail, I feel for you – Karius responds criticism|
|Barbasol Championship final round to resume on Monday due to thunderstorms|
|You can´t do whatever you want in life – Mourinho responds to Martial exit talk|
|Harvick bumps Busch out of way for victory|
|Klopp hails Dortmund star Pulisic after Liverpool loss|
|Fellow pro reveals Open winner Molinari´s retirement plans|
|Manchester United 0 San Jose Earthquakes 0: Sanchez returns in uninspiring draw|
|Laporte jealous of France World Cup winners|
|Tamim fires Bangladesh to ODI success|
|Liverpool 1 Borussia Dortmund 3: Pulisic inspires comeback to deny Klopp win against old club|
|My game is back - Spieth finds Open positives despite tough final round|
|Barcelona pay tribute to retiring Marquez|
|Blow for Thomas and Froome as Moscon is excluded|
|Woods earns WGC-Bridgestone Invitational place with rankings boost|
|Clay specialist Cecchinato lifts Croatia title on return to red dirt|
|Molinari´s safety-first masterclass yields deserved Open triumph|
|Alisson to link up with Liverpool at Evian training camp|
|Woods´ return no fluke, insists Spieth|
|Johnson shrugs off shoulder injury to win second 2018 title|
|The Open 2018 diary: Kane an able golfer, hats off to Hossler|
|Tiger and Serena will talk through Open disappointment|
|Molinari: It wasn´t about being ruthless to beat Woods|
|Tiger ´ticked off´ at missed Open opportunity|
|The Open 2018: Molinari triumphs - how a dramatic final round unfolded|
|McIlroy: Great to be back in the mix|
|Open victory will take a long time to sink in, says Molinari|
|Stoke sign McClean from West Brom for £5m|
|Masterful Molinari clinches sublime Open win after Spieth, Woods fall away|
|Germany´s Ozil retires from international football|
|Vikings OL coach Tony Sparano dies|
|BREAKING NEWS: Magical Molinari wins The Open|
|Dalic claims to be world´s second best coach|
|Twelve-try Wakefield batter Hull to send Rhinos into Qualifiers|
|Sevastova cruises to Bucharest title|
|Cort Nielsen sprints to first Tour stage win, Thomas maintains lead|
|Sarri needs support to deliver Chelsea success - Zola|
|Pjanic and Rugani in Juventus tour squad as Ronaldo and World Cup stars are rested|
|Eagle has McIlroy soaring into a five-way tie for the lead at Carnoustie|
|Vettel will not lose any sleep after Hockenheim mistake|
|I manifested my dream – Hamilton revels in Hockenheim win|
|Pakistan seal crushing series sweep of Zimbabwe|
|Furious Ozil accuses German media of turning country against him|
|Woods makes his move as Spieth and Schauffele wobble|
|Vettel crash sees Hamilton retake championship lead|
|RFEF confirms one-legged Supercopa de Espana in Tangier|
|Fognini downs Gasquet to clinch Swedish Open|
|Spieth and Tiger underway as Kisner falls back|
|Iniesta, Torres suffer defeats in their J.League debuts|
|Cornet ends title drought in Gstaad|
|Martial ´very focused´ at Manchester United - Herrera|
|Root, Williamson and Bairstow - hat-trick hero Clark flourishes in Roses battle|
|Sri Lanka spinning towards crushing series whitewash|
|Ozil explains controversial Erdogan meeting|
|It´ll be hard for Tuchel to get our players – Kovac expects Boateng stay|
|Fakhar Zaman fastest to 1,000 ODI runs|
|Neymar happy for World Cup winner Mbappe|
|I was born ready! - Bellew accepts Usyk challenge|
|Tuchel seeks Rabiot answers as Barca rumours persist|
|In-form Storm go top, Rampant Roosters thrash Manly|
|Bancroft discharged from hospital after taking blow to throat|
|MLS Review: Martinez breaks record as Atlanta march on|
|Brewers top Dodgers to snap seven-game losing streak|
|Munguia wins after 12-round marathon with Smith|
|Hart ready to leave City to revive career|
|Puel shuts down Schmeichel transfer speculation|
|Four-way tie at Barbasol Championship as Lincicombe misses cut|
|Lenglet happy not to face Messi|
|Tuchel keen to get PSG stars back after friendly defeat|
|Pulisic signing would interest Klopp|