World Cup 2018 Playoffs: A Closer Look at Croatia's Team Ahead of Greece

By 18 October 2017

A look at the Croatian national team ahead of the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Greece. 

Current coach of Croatia, Zlatko Dalić, received a “one-month" mandate for the Croatian national team on Monday, and on Tuesday, he learned of the team’s rival in the additional qualifications for advancement into the World Cup in Russia next year, reports on October 18, 2017. 

The situation is quite clear: in two matches, Dalić must lead a fierce competition against Greece, thus confirming his permanent solution as the coach of the Croatian national team - and, most importantly, securing Croatia's position in the competition next year. 

In Kiev, Dalić led the match with players chosen by then-coach Ante Čačić, but this time around, the coach will be able to select the players he believes will advance the team to Russia. And believe us, there will be some changes to ex-coach Čačić's list.

For example, Dalić has already said that Šime Vrsaljko will not be a long-term solution for the left side, but that he will find a permanent solution between Pivarić, Strinić, Leovac and Barišić. After all, Dalić has already spoken to Strinić and Leovc, telling them both that he is counting on them for the upcoming qualifications. This does not mean, however, that the both of them will get a call-up to the national team.

Changes can also be expected in the wing positions, where Ante Rebić and Nikola Vlašić could satisfy the needs of the new coach. The two young players compete in the top leagues, are fit, and have been remarkable for their clubs so far this season. Due to the injury of Marko Pjaca, the Croatian team only has one classic winger (Perišić), meaning both Rebić and Vlašić could improve the competition on the right side. The left side is still reserved for Perišić, of course. 

As for the injured players, Tin Jedvaj, Marcelo Brozović and Nikola Kalinić should be ready in November, while Vedran Ćorluka, Mateo Kovačić and Marko Pjaca will not. Jedvaj is placed in the most difficult position out of the three because his injury has forced him to miss the entire season so far this year. While he is slowly entering the competition for Bayer Leverkusen, the young defender must compete for his position, remain fit, and only then can he count on Dalić's call. Brozović and Nikola Kalinić, on the other hand, have both already performed this season, allowing them to quickly adapt to the rhythm of the game and gain the confidence of the new coach. 

While it is not easy to read the thoughts of Zlatko Dalić, it seems that he has just 17 specific names for the upcoming additional qualifications. On the left side, four players (Pivarić, Strinić, Leovac, Barišić) will have to compete for two places, another stopper will be required (Nižić, Ćaleta-Car, A. Milić), and it is entirely possible that he will bring both Rebić and Vlašić to expand the attack further. 

All in all, here’s a look at who Dalić can count on for the additional qualifiers against Greece:

Goalkeepers: Subašić, L. Kalinić, Livaković (certain) 

Defenders: Vrsaljko, Vida, Lovren, Mitrović (certain), Jedvaj, Nižić, Ćaleta-Car, A. Milić, Pivarić, Barišić, Leovac, Strinić (potential)

Midfielders: Modrić, Rakitić, Badelj, Brozović, Pašalić (certain), Bradarić (potential)

Wingers: Perišić, Rog (certain), Čop, Rebić, Vlašić (potential)

Strikers: Mandžukić, Kramarić, N. Kalinić (certain), Santini (potential)

Injured: Ćorluka, Kovačić, Pjaca

What do you think?

Translated from