PULA, 19 November 2019 – The current World Cup runners-up will end the calendar year with an international friendly against Georgia in Pula tonight at the Aldo Dronsina Stadium.
The match comes just three days after the team qualified for next year’s European Championship after beating Slovakia 3:1 in Rijeka.
Captain Luka Modric will miss the match and has returned to Real Madrid early where he will prepare for the remainder of the season. Bayern Munich winger Ivan Perisic will wear the captain’s armband, NovaTV reported.
Besides Modric, Josip Brekalo will miss the match after joining the Croatia U-21 side for their qualifier on Monday against Czech Republic.
Zlatko Dalic will give some game time to all squad members but there could be starts for bench players Mario Pašalić, Marko Rog, Milan Badelj and Mislav Oršić.
“I hope we will go into a well-deserved winter break with a win and put on a good show, but the opponent is tricky. Georgia has had some respectable results in the last few months, and if the approach is not right, they can cause us problems,” assistant coach Ivica Olic said.
“I always reiterate that it doesn’t matter who scores, but that Croatia plays well and wins. The roles of favourite does not matter to us, we depend on ourselves and when we are right, as was the case two days ago, nobody can do anything to us,” Perisic said, before adding.
“It is not easy playing after the World Cup in Russia, all eyes are on us and we are under the spotlight in every game, but we are ready for new challenges and I hope we will be good at the European Championship again. We have a good team, with with two or three good players in each position and everyone is waiting for their chance. I hope we will all play at our clubs and come to the European Championship in proper form.”
Croatia and Georgia have met twice before, both times in Euro qualifiers in 2011. In Tbilisi, Georgia won 1-0, whilst Croatia won the second match in Split 2:1.
Georgia were in Group D for the 2020 Euro qualifiers. They finished fourth with 8 points.
The match kicks off tonight at 18:00.