After a break of more than two months, the UEFA Champions League returns this week when the round of 16 gets underway.
Seven Croatian internationals are still involved in the pinnacle European competition. On Tuesday Atletico Madrid take on Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund meets Paris Saint-Germain.
Croatia right-back Sime Vrsaljko has recovered from a knee injury which kept him off the pitch for over a year. He was been playing for Atletico Madrid in their last few matches and is expected to start tomorrow night against Liverpool, the club of his good friend and Croatia teammate Dejan Lovren.
Lovren has been struggling this season to make the starting eleven and is not likely to feature in Jurgen Klopp’s plans in Madrid either.
On Wednesday, Atalanta plays Valencia and Tottenham takes on RB Leipzig. Mario Pasalic, who came off the bench and needed just 19 seconds to score for Atalanta on the weekend, is set to get some action on Wednesday.
Next Tuesday, Napoli takes on Ivan Rakitic’s Barcelona, whilst Mateo Kovacic and Ivan Perisic see their clubs go head to head when Chelsea takes on Bayern Munich. Kovacic, who has so far impressed this season, is a good chance to start for Frank Lampard’s side, whilst Perisic will take no part after having surgery on his ankle earlier this month.
Next Wednesday, Lyon plays Juventus and Luka Modric’s Real Madrid welcomes Manchester City.
Last season, Dejan Lovren became the 10th Croatian footballer to win the Champions League when Liverpool beat Tottenham. It was the 8th year in row Croatia had a player in the Champions League final.
Croatians in the UEFA Champions League final
2012 – Ivica Olic
2013 – Mario Mandzukic
2014 – Luka Modric
2015 – Ivan Rakitic
2016 – Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic
2017 – Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic, Mario Mandzukic
2018 – Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic, Dejan Lovren
2019 – Dejan Lovren