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Croatia’s Quest for History: Netherlands vs. Croatia – UEFA Nations League semi-final preview

The Netherlands and Croatia will meet in the UEFA Nations League semi-final tomorrow night at the De Kuip stadium in Rotterdam.   

With both teams having their own aspirations and facing challenges, the stage is set for an exciting battle. Both the Netherlands and Croatia are eager to secure their spot in the final and lift the prestigious trophy for the first time.

For Croatia, this is a historic moment as it marks their first-ever appearance in the UEFA Nations League Final Four. They are determined to make their mark by winning their first trophy in the nation’s history. 

The Croatian team has been in good form, building on their impressive performance at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar where they finished third, and their recent 2-0 away against Turkey in Euro 2024 qualifying.

However, both teams will be missing key players due to injuries. The Netherlands will have to do without the talented forward, Memphis Depay, who has been unable to recover from a calf injury. Furthermore, Matthijs de Ligt had to withdraw from the squad after suffering a similar issue in training.

On the Croatian side, Joško Gvardiol will be absent due to an abdominal injury. In his place, the experienced Domagoj Vida may step in to fill the void in the centre of defence. 

Additionally, Hajduk Split striker Marko Livaja made the decision to pull out of the squad after an incident during an open training session. He believed his presence would have been a distraction. 

Lovro Majer also had a scare with a hand injury but is expected to be fit for the match. 

A notable aspect of the game will be the large Croatian contingent of fans who will be present in Rotterdam. Their support is expected to create a lively atmosphere, almost feeling like a home game for Croatia.

Coach Zlatko Dalić expressed his excitement about reaching the finals and acknowledged the challenge they face against the Netherlands. He expects great support from the fans and hopes it will feel like they are playing at home. Dalić emphasized that although they will aim to win, the team does not feel any pressure.

Croatia has been based in Rijeka the past 10 days where they have been preparing and there has been speculation this week that Dalić may start with Ivan Perišić at left back, like he did when Croatia beat Morocco to win the bronze medal in Qatar.

Potential starting line-up: Livaković – Juranović, Vida, Šutalo, Perišić – Modrić, Brozović, Kovačić – Pašalić, Kramarić, Ivanušec.

Both the players and the fans now are accustom to success on the big stage, and although it will not be an easy task, Croatia has the quality to go all the way in Rotterdam.

The UEFA Nations League is also one of the last chances captain Luka Modrić will have to lift a trophy with Croatia. He has come close and won almost all there is in football, and it would be a fitting to cap off a remarkable career with a trophy with his country. 

In the other semi-final, Spain will face Italy. The final and the 3rd-4th playoff matches are scheduled to take place on June 18th.

14 June: Netherlands v Croatia – 20:45
15 June: Italy v Spain – 20:45
18 June: 3rd-4th playoff – 15:00
18 June: Final – 20:45

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