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."
|I may have to dust my boots off! - Pele threatened by Mbappe exploits|
|WATCH: Mendy and Pogba dab with president Macron after World Cup win|
|Woods embracing ´different´ Carnoustie challenge ahead of Open return|
|Argentina dismiss Sampaoli after chaotic World Cup|
|France celebrates World Cup triumph|
|Djokovic made ´improvised Wimbledon trophies´ as a boy|
|Stone goes agonisingly close to 59 as Pepperell & Dantorp also make Open|
|Outcast Benzema delights in France win|
|Final a triumph in itself given Croatia´s off-field turmoil|
|Anderson laments Wimbledon final nerves|
|Deschamps joins elite club, Mbappe second to Pele - the best stats from the World Cup final|
|Belgium´s Courtois wins World Cup Golden Glove|
|Collarbone fracture confirmed for ´devastated´ Porte|
|World Cup final player ratings: Griezmann, Mbappe inspire France as Croatia fall short|
|World Cup winner Giroud ends tournament without shot on target|
|Modric wins World Cup Golden Ball|
|Mbappe wins World Cup Young Player award|
|Deschamps redeemed as France win World Cup final for the ages|
|France 4 Croatia 2: Twitter Report|
|Tomlin optimistic over Bell contract|
|Kane wins World Cup Golden Boot|
|Ajax keen on Blind deal - Van der Sar|
|France 4 Croatia 2: Pogba and Mbappe seal thrilling World Cup triumph|
|Anderson would have played another 21 hours to reach Wimbledon final|
|Djokovic delighted to crown ´comeback´ with Wimbledon glory|
|World Cup final interrupted by pitch invaders - Pussy Riot claim responsibility|
|Djokovic´s grass-court U-turn pays ultimate dividends with Wimbledon title|
|Mandzukic makes World Cup history with early own goal|
|Dominant Djokovic beats Anderson to regain Wimbledon title|
|Everybody said I´m done - Degenkolb revels in first Tour victory|
|´Big party´ for Marquez after Sachsenring success|
|Hazard enjoys Belgium´s welcome home|
|Ex-AC Milan president Berlusconi conflicted over Ronaldo to Juventus|
|Spain did not contact Martinez over head coach vacancy|
|Maybe the VAR was watching The Simpsons! - RSL coach Petke slams MLS officials|
|Cubs´ Darvish hopes to return by next weekend|
|France and Croatia name unchanged sides for World Cup final|
|Marquez maintains Sachsenring dominance|
|Courtois claims World Cup has boosted his value|
|Buffon beaten on difficult PSG debut|
|Vince called up for Headingley decider|
|Farah inspires Tigers win over Dragons, Warriors and Roosters triumph|
|Crash forces Porte out of Tour for second year running|
|Ronaldo considered Napoli move, says De Laurentiis|
|Mafi arrested for allegedly assaulting Rebels team-mate|
|Everybody is welcome - Croatia pitch for neutral support in World Cup final|
|West Ham seal club-record swoop for Felipe Anderson|
|Rooney applauds England for capturing fans´ imagination|
|Krajicek urges Anderson to go for broke in Wimbledon final|
|Wimbledon 2018: Djokovic v Anderson in Opta numbers|
|Kohli defends Dhoni after Lord´s boos|
|Wimbledon finalist Djokovic can win the next six majors, claims Krajicek|
|We´re ´blessed´ to watch Mbappe, says Kaka|
|Bogaerts hits walk-off grand slam to deliver Red Sox win over Blue Jays|
|Cardinals dismiss Matheny, name Shildt interim manager|
|Pacquiao knocks out Matthysse to win welterweight title|
|Didulica expects ´cagey´, tight World Cup final|
|MLS Review: Rooney impresses on debut, Galaxy leave it late|
|Truex dominates to win Quaker State 400 again|
|Kim in control at John Deere Classic|
|Braves place closer Vizcaino back on DL, manager concerned about injury|
|Long on Eagles having Wentz, Foles: It´s really a dream|
|Effenberg: I´d prefer Mandzukic over Neymar|
|Courtois open to Chelsea stay amid Madrid links|
|Rays´ Ramos won´t play All-Star Game due to hamstring injury|
|Gary Sanchez injury update: Yankees catcher on track to return after All-Star break|
|Windies crush Bangladesh again to seal series win|
|Klopp backs Lovren´s lofty ´best in the world´ claim|
|Root welcomes ´ruthless´ England display|
|Martinez on target in impressive Inter debut|