Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has only one real injury concern heading into Wednesday’s World Cup semi-final in Russia.
Right-back Sime Vrsaljko came off in extra-time during Croatia’s quarterfinal victory over Russia and faces a race against time to be fit for the match against England tomorrow.
Whilst the UK and Spanish media had already ruled Vrsaljko out, the 26-year-old Atlético Madrid defender told HNTV that he will do all he can to be fit.
“In the first period of extra-time, I felt real fatigue in my knee. I felt something strange in my knee and after talking with the doctor on the sideline we decided I should come off. It is not anything horrific, but it bothers me and I hope it will recuperate till the match against England,” Vrsaljko said, before adding.
“Health has to be number one, but to play for the Croatian team, to play in the World Cup semi-final, I do not need to even say that I will be giving it 300% to be fit.”
Vrsaljko has been a key part of Dalic’s set-up. His pace and over-lapping runs down the right have been important and without him, Croatia would be weaker.
Vrsaljko says that he expects the match against England to be completely different than the games against Denmark and Russia.
“They have a lot of quality, they play well, well organised and a physically strong, but we are also aware of our quality. They also have flaws that we will try to exploit them and it will be a long 120 or 90 minutes. In the semifinals, we are representing our homeland and we going for what we are dreaming of, “explained Vrsaljko.
If Vrsaljko is ruled out then Dalic has two options, either bringing in specialist right-back Tin Jedvaj, who played against Iceland, or the more probable option of moving Domagoj Vida to right-back and bringing in the experienced Vedran Corluka to pair Dejan Lovren at centre back.