Croatia will field 5 full senior internationals in their upcoming UEFA U-21 European Championship qualifiers…
Regular current senior internationals, Mateo Kovačić (Real Madrid) and Marko Pjaca (Dinamo Zagreb) have been released by coach Ante Čačić for Croatia’s friendly with Russia next month so they can join up with the U-21 team ahead of qualifiers against San Marino (11 November) and Spain (17 November).
The side on paper looks like a force with 5 players who have been capped at senior level for Croatia. Besides Kovačić and Pjaca, Alen Halilović, Mario Pašalić and Josip Radošević will also feature in a side that includes serious talents Andrija Balić and Nikola Vlašić from Hajduk Split, and Ante Ćorić and Marko Rog from Dinamo Zagreb.
“After an agreement with national senior team coach Ante Čačić, against Spain we will have the services of Kovačić and Pjaca. It is nice that the federation is showing ambition and wants to achieve results at this level by releasing them”, U-21 coach Nenad Gračan said.
Croatia is currently leading their group with 9 points, 2 ahead of Spain and Sweden. The winner of each group will qualify automatically for the 2017 Euro in Poland, whilst the best 4 second place sides will go into a playoff.
Croatia U-21 squad:
Keepers: Dominik Livaković (Zagreb), Josip Posavec (Inter Zaprešić)
Defenders: Dino Mikanović (Aarhus), Fran Tudor (Hajduk), Jozo Šimunović (Celtic), Duje Ćaleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg), Dino Perić (Lokomotiva), Filip Benković (Dinamo), Antonio Milić (Oostende)
Midfield: Josip Radošević (Rijeka), Mateo Kovačić (Real Madrid), Marko Rog (Dinamo), Mario Pašalić (Monaco), Ante Ćorić (Dinamo), Andrija Balić (Hajduk), Petar Brlek (Slaven Belupo)
Strikers: Marko Pjaca (Dinamo), Nikola Vlašić (Hajduk), Alen Halilović (Sporting Gijon)