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Kovač: ‘Going to be the same for us and the Italians’

0000012067_685_375_cutCroatia coach Niko Kovač has put his side through their paces for the first time as they prepare for their important Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy in Split next week…

Captain Darijo Srna, Domagoj Vida, Alen Halilović, Danijel Pranjić, Gordon Schildenfeld, Ivan Rakitić, Vedran Ćorluka, Ivica Olić and Ivan Perišić did not train in Zagreb yesterday due to club commitments and will meet up with the squad later.

Croatia will warm up for their clash with Italy with a friendly against Gibraltar on Sunday in Varaždin.

“Against Gibraltar we will try to implement what we will train this week. We will have the share of possession and we will try to break them down. It is always difficult, not just for Croatia, and we will look for an early goal,” said Kovač, before focusing his attention on the clash with Italy.

“We are in a good position, even a draw is a positive result for us. We will not rush, we will not lose our heads, but we will try to win as we have every match till now,” Croatia’s coach said.

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Kovač will be without the injured Luka Modrić and Dejan Lovren, as well as Vedran Ćorluka, who is out serving a suspension, for the match against the Italians.

“Everyone else is good. Olić’s condition is getting better, and I would like that everyone stays healthy after the Gibraltar match and is fully fit for Split. Our young players are becoming more mature, the older guys are supporting them and they are learning a lot off them. I don’t agree that Mario Mandžukić is in bad form, I expect him to play how we want him to play,” Kovač said, before briefly touching on UEFA’s decision to ban fans for the match at Split’s Poljud stadium (12 June).

“I don’t know if any of us have played in this type of situation. It will be like training, expect we will have opposition and we will be playing for points. It is a specific situation, but it is the same for the Italians. Of course it would be nice to have the support of the fans like we had in Italy, but we will adapt. We will not talk about it too much, expect just prepare for it,” concluded Kovač.

(photo credit / Drago Sopta / HNS)

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