Croatia needs a victory at Poljud to increase points after consecutive visits to Russia and Slovakia.
“Certainly, there will be no Livaković in goal; we will not take any risks; Gvardiol is also questionable. I am not inclined to force what I am not sure of, as in the case of Modrić and Budimir. We will go with healthy and ready players. This, after all, was shown by this census at the beginning of the September cycle. Some players played a lot, Sosa, Juranović, Lovren… I’m a little scared to start a game with players who played a lot. We won’t change and invent much because we have nothing. I will say that Livaja will start the game, he has known this for several days, and I expect great things from him; he deserved it with his performances for Hajduk. In what position will he play? Everyone is there to play what is meant for them. Nobody plays a dominant position, even though the media constantly emphasize it,” says Zlatko Dalić, who went on to discuss the importance of a victory and the demands of the third game in a week.
“We have to be favorites at our stadium, in front of our fans. Perhaps this will be the most difficult match for us because it is the third in just seven days against an aggressive and combative opponent who beat us in Slovenia. If we do not show the energy from Bratislava and Moscow, it will be difficult for us. However, I doubt that the audience will carry us in our motive, and I believe we will win the match. In which way, it doesn’t matter; only the points are important.”
Slovenia is no easy opponent.
“Slovenia is not just Jan Oblak. Iličić rested; he is fresh and the biggest danger; he forms an attacking axis with Lovrić, and I expect Mlakar as well. Slovenia will play as much as we allow them and as we position ourselves on the field. We did not let Russia or Slovakia play with pressure; I am delighted with that game segment. We must react well to other opponents’ balls again. Problems in the attack? We were a little futile going forward, but these aren’t games to die for in beauty. Points matter, not impressions. I said that I had no objections to what Croatia played, except for that final.”
The team will once again be weakened with the absence of Luka Modrić.
“Luka will not be forever; we cannot keep repeating Luka, Luka, Luka. No one can replace him individually; we can only replace him as a team; we must understand that. He started training; he will be with us in October. We have to get rid of that rumor so that we can play without the captain, who we miss a lot.”
There will be no lack of support at Poljud, and well-filled stands are expected.
“The support of the audience will be important to us. We remember Hungary and the fantastic atmosphere that reigned at Poljud during that match. It was an atmosphere that gave you chills. However, since I was the coach, where the point was that we played, it was beautiful for us, in Osijek, Rijeka, Zagreb… Regardless of what someone wants to do that is worthless, the Croatian people recognize the good. Therefore, I expect great support from the stands, and we will try to thank you with three points,” concluded Dalić.
Ivan Perišić will lead Croatia as captain against Slovenia. Ivan is aware that the victory against Slovakia in Bratislava additionally raised the self-confidence of the national team.
“The atmosphere is great after the victory in Slovakia; it gave us extra energy. We did well in the matches against Russia and Slovakia, we did not concede a goal, and we can be satisfied with two of perhaps the most difficult away games. However, if we don’t beat Slovenia, it won’t mean much,” said Perišić, who spoke about the hard September rhythm of these matches.
“The rhythm is tough; everything happened in a short time, it will be a little easier in October and November, but then we will already have two games a week with our clubs. Whoever survives will talk, ha, ha, ha… However, we have 25 players so that the coach can choose and distribute the forces. The skeleton of the team is there; the younger players already have a lot of serious games, they give us extra strength.”
Ivan spoke about the course of the match against Slovenia.
“We will start from the first minute to score; it will be easier if we open them at the start, as was the case against Hungary at Poljud. We definitely need to improve our attack, and we need more time for that. Poljud? Every game at Poljud is something special; it means a lot to me, family, friends, we can’t wait for it to start.”
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