ZAGREB: Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic on Friday named a 25-man squad for upcoming UEFA Nations League games against Spain and England, voicing confidence that his World Cup runners-up could achieve their first victory in the tournament.
Croatia face Spain at Zagreb’s Maksimir stadium on November 15, and England three days later at Wembley.
“We are facing excellent and difficult games but Croatia can answer to such challenges,” Dalic told reporters in Zagreb.
“We are concentrated on Spain, we want to try to win in front of home fans to stay in the game for the final tournament.”
Croatia reached the 2018 World Cup final in Moscow on July 15, a historic moment of glory for the team despite losing 4-2 to France.
But they suffered a humiliating 6-0 defeat against Spain their first Nations League match in September.
It was followed by a 0-0 draw with England, a World Cup semi-final rematch, played last month at an empty stadium in Rijeka.
Fans were banned from the match because of a UEFA sanction against Croatia over the carving of a swastika into a pitch during a Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy.
For the upcoming battles against Spain and England, captain Luka Modric’s squad will include three young players: forwards Josip Brekalo and Nikola Vlasic as well as defender Duje Caleta-Car.
It will be Brekalo’s debut for the team.
The three players made a significant contribution to the Under-20 squad and they will boost the senior squad “with their energy and talent” Dalic said.
Goalkeepers: Lovre Kalinic (Gent/BEL), Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Karlo Letica (Club Brugge/BEL)
Defenders: Domagoj Vida (Besiktas/TUR), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool/ENG), Sime Vrsaljko (Inter/ITA), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kiev/UKR), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen/GER), Matej Mitrovic (Club Brugge/BEL), Duje Caleta-Car (Marseille/FRA), Antonio Milic (Anderlecht/BEL)
Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid/ESP), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona/ESP), Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea/ENG), Milan Badelj (Lazio/ITA), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter/ITA), Marko Rog (Napoli/ITA), Mario Pasalic (Atalanta/ITA), Filip Bradaric (Cagliari/ITA)
Forwards: Ivan Perisic (Inter/ITA), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim/GER), Ante Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER), Marko Pjaca (Fiorentina/ITA), Nikola Vlasic (CSKA Moscow/RUS), Josip Brekalo (VfL Wolfsburg/GER) —AFP