The Croatian football team gathers in Zagreb on Monday ahead of their UEFA Nations League clash with England in Rijeka on Friday.
The stakes going into the repeat of the World Cup semifinal from three months ago are very different with both sides missing a number of players.
Croatia is coming off a 6-0 thumping at the hands of Spain and coach Zlatko Dalić told a press conference on Monday that he is looking for an improvement as he builds towards the start of EURO 2020 qualifiers early next year.
Dalić has a number of injury concerns ahead of Friday’s clash and has called up 23-year-old Karlo Bartolec from Danish club Nordsjaelland to join the squad.
“Brozović because of injury did not play for Inter yesterday and we will see today his condition. Barišić has a ruptured muscle and will not likely be in contention for the match, whilst Santini had some cuts on his leg. Vrsaljko played yesterday but we will see how his knee reacts and maybe he will need a break so we may send him back to Inter and let him use the break to rest and recover. We have an option with Vida and Jedvaj at right back and I still have not given up with the option of Rog, I think with this skill and running he could play there. Lovre Kalinić had a scan which did not show any injuries but if there are problems we will call up Sluga from Rijeka,” Dalić said.
“Ante Rebić is one option to be the striker, he had a great World Cup and he will get a chance against England. We will find the right solution and Rebić brings speed and aggression which Mandžukić gave us.”
“The loss to Spain was hard, but it happens. We need to improve the situation against England to correct the impression we left and because of building a team for Euro qualifiers. We did not have a full side in Elche or keep to the system, but that is behind us. Problem with form happens to Barcelona and Real Madrid and we need to be ready for March (Euro qualifiers).
“The English have their own problem with players and have a number of new young players in the team. The match will be played with no fans in an un-football like atmosphere but we need to accept that. It gives nobody an advantage. The English are fast, young, ambitious and we will have some difficulties.”
Croatia will play a friendly against NK Bjelovar to celebrate the club’s 110th anniversary on Tuesday. The match will be played without fans at Rujevica stadium in Rijeka on 12 October.
— HNS | CFF (@HNS_CFF) October 8, 2018