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Halilović Set to Make Competitive Croatia Debut

CroatiaCroatia take on Malta on Tuesday night at Zagreb’s Maksimir stadium to open their EURO 2016 qualifying campaign, with teenage star Alen Halilović looking set to make his debut for Croatia in an official competitive match...

The Barcelona teen impressed during Croatia’s comfortable 2-0 win over Cyprus in a friendly in Pula last week, and coach Niko Kovač is toying with the idea of starting the 18-year-old in the midfield. Kovač has been using a 4-2-3-1 formation in training this week, and it seems he is weighing up two options. Ivan Rakitić, who was missing from last week’s friendly, will return to the midfield and will partner Luka Modrić in the middle, with the right-side either going to the impressive Halilović, or workhorse Ivica Olić. Croatia trained with both formations but it seems regardless who will start, Halilović will make an appearance sometime during the match to claim his first official cap.

Inter Milan’s Mateo Kovačić will likely play wide on the left, with the back four looking like it will consist of Darijo Srna, Vedran Ćorluka, Dejan Lovren and Danijel Pranjić. Mario Mandžukić looks like he will start up front despite getting a knock against Cyprus, and will be partnered by Andrej Kramarić or Nikica Jelavić. (pic: Drago Sopta / HNS)

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