The Croatian football team has made the one and a half hour flight from their base to Kaliningrad on Thursday afternoon ahead of their FIFA World Cup opener on Saturday.
Zlatko Dalic’s side has been training since Monday afternoon at the Woodland Rhapsody Resort at Illichevo, which is approximately 60 kilometres from St. Petersburg, and today departed for Kaliningrad where they will face Nigeria at Kaliningrad Stadium on Saturday night.
Reports from the side’s most recent training session suggest that Dalic will go for all-out attack against the African counterparts. Mario Mandzukic, Andrej Kramaric, Ante Rebic and Ivan Perisic look like they all may start in a 4-2-3-1 formation with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic in tandem in the centre of midfield.
“We are aware that the nation’s expectations are high. Our own expectations are high as well,” Rakitic said, adding that he understands fans are expecting big things from him and Modric at this tournament, which may be their last together in the Croatian colours.
Dalic looks to favour Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida as his centre-backs for Nigeria, with Sime Vrsaljko and Ivan Strinic as right and left backs.
“Rest assured, Croatia internationals will play at 100 percent,” Ivan Perisic said, whilst Mario Mandzukic added.
“There is no greater motivation but to play for Croatia at the World Cup.”
Croatia v Nigeria kicks off at 8 pm Croatian time.