Nigeria Foes Croatia Name Star-Studded 32-Man World Cup Provisional Squad

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic on Monday named Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic in his 32-man provisional squad for

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Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic on Monday named Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic in his 32-man provisional squad for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, reports Completesportsnigeria.com.

The provisional squad list was announced through the official Twitter handle of the Croatia  Football Federation.

The Croatian will face Nigeria, Iceland and Argentina in the group stage of the Russia 2018 World Cup.

Dalic named four goalkeepers, 12 defenders, eight midfielders and eight forwards to compete for places in the final 23-man squad for the Mundial.

Also included in the squad are Mateo Kovacic from Real Madrid, Ivan Rakitic from Barcelona and Sime Vrsalijko from Atletico Madrid.

Also called up are the likes of Ivan Perisic, Nikola Kalinic, Marko Rog, Milan Badelj, Ivan Strinic from the Italian Serie A.

Croatia will face Nigeria in their opening Group D game before battling Argentina and Iceland.

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Croatia Coach Dalic: We Must Be At Our Best In Tough World Cup Group

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has challenged his players to rise to the challenge of a tough Russia 2018 World Cup

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Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has challenged his players to rise to the challenge of a tough Russia 2018 World Cup group and surpass the feat of their predecessors who finished third on the country’s debut at France 1998.

Since their impressive performance at the 1998 World Cup with players like Davor Šuker, Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinečki and Slaven Bilić, Croatia were eliminated at the group stages at Korea/Japan 2002, Germany 2006 and Brazil 2014 and failed to qualify for the South Africa 2010 World Cup.

And looking forward to this year’s edition, Dalic said his star-studded side must prove themselves in Russia.

“I have to say what is good and what is not,” Dalic told Dnevnik Nova TV monitored by FIFA.com. “Croatia haven’t done well in a World Cup since France 1998, and going on our quality, we should have.

“We have a brilliant generation of players who, like me, have to know that we can’t live on past glory. Ahead of us is the World Cup, and we have to be at our best there.”

Croatia are drawn in Group D with Nigeria, two-time champions Argentina and debutants Iceland. Examining the group, Dalic stated he is excited Croatia will be facing very tough opponents.

“I’ve always said I wanted tough matches and tough opponents, and we can only progress as a team by playing against top sides and [learning from] our mistakes,” said Dalic. “We don’t need weaker opponents. Perhaps it’s risky of me to feel this way, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

He expressed delight that three of his players Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic (both for Real Madrid) will be in the final of this season’s UEFA Champions League.

“I’m very proud that Croatia has three players in the Champions League final, which proves our quality,” said the 51-year-old. “They won’t be tired and will come to Russia full of confidence and motivation.”

And on his squad for the 2018 World Cup, the former midfielder said: “This week we will define a larger squad, and it will comprise players who have spent the last two-three years in the national team. There will be no big surprises.

“We have great players and a great generation, and we have to believe in this generation at the World Cup. They got us there and we should give them a chance.

“I’m looking forward to seeing a group of youngsters who are the future of Croatian football. But we will introduce them in the [UEFA] Nations League in the autumn to give them the chance to show their quality. It will be best for [Borno] Sosa, [Filip] Benkovic, [Duje] Caleta-Car, [Nikola] Vlasic, [Ante] Rebic to enter a new cycle for the EURO 2020 qualifiers and the Nations League.”

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World Cup: We Are Focused on Eagles – Dalic

Ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Croatia’s national team coach, Zlatko Dalic has made it crystal clear

Ahead of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, Croatia’s national team coach, Zlatko Dalic has made it crystal clear that their main focus is on Nigeria.

Nigeria and Croatia are drawn in group D of the 2018 FIFA World Cup alongside Iceland and Argentina.

Croatia and Nigeria will face off in their World Cup opener at the Kaliningrad Stadium (Kaliningrad) on June 16, 2018 and the Croatians are already making frantic moves ahead of the encounter.

Dalić confirmed that he sent out spies watching Eagles grind out a gritty 1-0 win against Poland last Friday and also monitored the Nigeria’s squad against Serbia, yesterday.

The 51-year-old tactician stated that the essence of monitoring the three time African champions’ games is to derive relevant information that will help them at the World Cup.

‘’It’s my style because we will use it in the World Cup too. Argentina, I think, is one of the main favorites for the title in Russia, but we are primarily focused on Nigeria, the first opponents in the group.

“We will collect all relevant information about the rivals from the group,’’ Dalic said.

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Croatia Coach Picks XI For World Cup Clash Vs Nigeria, To Monitor Eagles Friendlies

By Adeboye Amosu: Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic says he already has in mind the starting 11 for his side’s

By Adeboye Amosu:

Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic says he already has in mind the starting 11 for his side’s 2018 FIFA World Cup opening Group D clash against the Super Eagles of Nigeria, Completesportsnigeria.com reports.

The Croats who have lost their last four opening fixtures at the World Cup will face the three-time African champions on June 16 at the Kaliningrad Stadium.

They will look to put an end to the poor run when they come up against Gernot Rohr, and Dalic admitted he already has the men who will do the job.

“I have the first eleven that will face Nigeria in Kaliningrad but of course I will not disclose it to the media because the whole structure still depends on form and injury,” Dalic told Croatia online news outlet Sportske jutarnji.hr.

“It is better to know three months before the start of the World Cup and not close to the game.”

Nigeria as well as Iceland and two-time world champions Argentina, who are the two other teams in the group, will be involved in friendlies in the upcoming international window.

Dalic confirmed he will send scouts to watch Nigeria in their friendly games against Poland and Serbia this Friday and next week Tuesday.

“Ivica Olic will be in the United States of America to monitor Iceland who plays Peru and Mexico. Nikola Jerkan will follow Argentina in the games against Italy and Spain, while Ognjen Vukojevic will watch Nigeria against Poland and Serbia.”

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Croatia Coach, Dalic: Match Vs ‘Young, Potent And Hungry’ Nigerian Team Will Decide Our W/Cup Fate

Croatia head coach, Zlatko Dalic, has described the Super Eagles of Nigeria as a ‘young, potent and hungry’ side with

Croatia head coach, Zlatko Dalic, has described the Super Eagles of Nigeria as a ‘young, potent and hungry’ side with great potentials,  admitting ‎ that the result of  his team’s first match at Russia 2018 World Cup against the three-time African champions  will decide their fate in the tournament .

Croatia will open their 2018 FIFA World Cup Group D campaign against Nigeria on 
June 16, in Kaliningrad.

This is the first time both countries will clash at the senior level.

Speaking to 
FIFA.com, Dalic, while assessing Croatia’s Group D opponents, which also includes Argentina and newcomers, Iceland, stated that their opening game against Nigeria will decide how far they will go in Russia.

“Iceland were the best team in our group. We know them very well and had a tough loss against them in Reykjavik.,” Dalic began.

“Argentina are obviously one of the favourites to win the World Cup, while I see Nigeria as a young, potent and hungry team with great potential. That first match against Nigeria is very important – it will set the tone for the rest of our tournament.”

Dalic described Real Madrid star midfielder Luka Modric as the lifewire of the Croatian team, but however stated that the main strength is in their unity.

“For Croatia, he (Modric) is our best player – he’s the engine that makes us go. He’s also a captain who leads by example. He always gives his maximum, he sets high standards with his attitude, aggression and energy on the pitch, and with his behaviour off it.

“We have good players in big European clubs, so obviously we have great individual quality in the likes of Modric, Mandzukic, Rakitic, [Ivan] Perisic, Kalinic and others. But our main strength has to be the team.

“I believe that pride and patriotism show by our players when playing for Croatia is a very important attribute. That’s something we need to combine with our quality; if we do that, we’ll have a good chance of reaching our goals.”

And on his plans ahead of  the World Cup, he said: “I plan to travel and meet with players and their club coaches, to talk about their status and form. I am focused on only choosing fully fit players, and they know that.

“We also have two great friendly matches in March against Peru and Mexico in USA, and I hope to have two more strong opponents in June. We want to see how good we are and what we need to improve on before the World Cup, and to play teams with similar styles to those we’re going to face in Russia.”