ZAGREB, 8 March 2021 – Croatia will open its 2022 World Cup qualifying this month and on Monday coach Zlatko Dalić named his squad for the opening matches.
Croatia is in Group H alongside Slovakia, Russia, Slovenia, Cyprus, and Malta and will start with matches against Slovenia away in Ljubljana on 24 March, against Cyprus on March 27 and Malta on March 30 both in Rijeka.
Dalić welcomed back a number of players who have been out recently with injury, including Šime Vrsaljko who last played for the national team back in 2018.
Goalies: Lovre Kalinić, Dominik Livaković, Simon Sluga
Defenders: Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren, Šime Vrsaljko, Borna Barišić, Duje Ćaleta-Car, Dario Melnjak, Filip Uremović, Josip Juranović
Midfield: Luka Modrić, Mateo Kovačić, Marcelo Brozović, Milan Badelj, Mario Pašalić, Nikola Vlašić
Strikers: Ivan Perišić, Andrej Kramarić, Ante Rebić, Josip Brekalo, Bruno Petković, Mislav Oršić, Ante Budimir
On-call: Mile Škorić, Toma Bašić, Marin Pongračić, Ivo Grbić, Kristijan Lovrić
Vatreni will gather on March 22 in Zagreb, from where they will leave for Ljubljana a day later. Immediately after the match with Slovenia, the national team will travel to Opatija where it will stay until the end of the gathering.
“There are no surprises on the list, this is a team we built through the qualifications for EURO and last year’s Nations League. Although a demanding group awaits us, I have a lot of faith in this team and we are very optimistic about the new cycle because I am deeply convinced that we have the quality to qualify for the World Cup – and that is, of course, our main goal in these qualifications,” said Dalić, before adding.
“In agreement with the U-21 coach, Igor Bišćan, Domagoj Bradarić will be a member of U-21 team in this period for the European Championship. I wish Igor and his team a lot of luck in Slovenia. I am glad that we do not have any serious problems with injuries at the moment, and I hope that it will remain so until we meet up. We want a good start because of the qualifications themselves, but also as an introduction to the EURO, and for that we will have to show maximum approach, concentration and togetherness with quality.”
The ten group winners will qualify directly for Qatar 2022, with the ten runners-up advancing to the play-offs.
The 2022 FIFA World Cup will be played from 21 November – 18 December 2022 in Doha, Lusail, Al Khor, Al Wakrah, and Rayyan.