The day before the flight to Brussels, where Croatia will play their last pre-Euro friendly against Belgium, coach Zlatko Dalic sent a message to Croatia fans. He pointed out that the national team is aware of its obligation to the Croatian people. He spoke about the problems in the national team, the pros and cons of the draw against Armenia, and the expectations from players who are dissatisfied with their status. One of them is Andrej Kramarić, who, after 20 goals scored in the Bundesliga this season, is not safe among Dalić’s starters. A few days ago, he advised the media to ask Davor Šuker what he would say after such a season.
Are there any things you are happy with from the Armenia match (1-1)?
I am satisfied with everything except the result. We had minor injury problems. We did the rest as expected, but the draw with Armenia left a bitter taste. In that game, we had to win 4-0 or 5-0, not draw 1-1. I am dissatisfied with this result. Plus, we created 5-6 percent chances, and we didn’t do that in three games in a row at the beginning of the World Cup qualifiers against Slovenia, Cyprus, and Malta. We were nonchalant and irresponsible and did not realize them. We were not specific, and that is a minus. It was easier to score than to miss those chances, and if we had done that, the result would have been expected for me. I’m not happy with a draw like this. The atmosphere would be nicer because the result always brings positivity. But when I saw that we ran 118 kilometers and had a lot of high sprints, I am still satisfied.
What is the situation with injured players – Lovren, Brekalo, and Gvardiol?
Lovren works according to a custom program; he is getting better. Gvardiol and Brekalo are injured, and we will take care of them to the maximum. If they are not one hundred percent ready for training today, they will not be ready for the game. There is no point in forcing them now and forcing them to work one hundred percent; if they don’t feel the best, that’s not right. They are not ready, and we are waiting for them. According to the latest findings, everything will be ok.
What will be the focus during the training at the end of the preparations?
Belgium will be a great test to work on tactics for England and a defensive break. We will see what is not good in that game on Sunday, and we will correct it in the next 5-6 days. We will refresh the team and make the lineup.
What do you expect from the match against Belgium?
It is a big challenge for us, we are playing against the first national team in the world in the FIFA rankings, and it is great preparation for England. In that match, Croatia must show its quality, strength, especially in the defense, and resist such an opponent, who has great individuals. Next, we need to learn lessons from that game and correct the shortcomings that need to be corrected by England. Belgium will show us whether we are on the right track or not.
Does the result matter? Would winning mean a lot for confidence?
The result is always important. I told the players that after Armenia. A positive result brings a positive atmosphere, self-confidence, and, in addition to the fact that we have to look for our game, we also have to look for the result. The result raises and motivates you even more, especially against the best team in the world.
Scotland has corona; as many as seven players are unavailable to the coach.
They have seven players with corona, but they still played 2:2 with the Netherlands and led until the last minute. It is a problem that accompanies us all; tests are every day, and players are constantly under psychological pressure. It’s a burden, we constantly think about it and be careful, but little can be done there. We have to learn to live with it.
Do you know the starting lineup for England?
We know roughly the starting lineup, but we’ll leave that to ourselves. We will try everything in today’s training, and over the course of tomorrow, we still have to do some things. It is important that we standardize, determine the starting lineup, and give tasks to our players to be ready for what awaits them.
What do you think Kramarić looked like against Armenia, and is there any doubt between him and Vlašić when it comes to the starting lineup?
We have three safe matches at the Euros, and the line-up against England will certainly be different compared to Scotland and the Czech Republic. Kramarić, Vlašić, and even Pašalić are very close to the team, but it depends on the opponent. There is no place for dissatisfaction here, no place for disagreement. I’m in charge of the team I put together and put the guys inside.
Who do you think are the Euro favorites?
Nine teams are rightly shooting for the European title at the moment. The world champions France, then England, who have a great young team and play at home, and Portugal as the current European champions. These are the teams that are in the narrowest circle. There are also Spain, Germany, Italy, Belgium. Everyone has a chance, and this will be a challenging and uncertain European Championship.
Do you have a message for the fans after Croatia’s poor results lately?
I also said this to the boys during the meeting: the Croatian people are waiting for us and expect good results. The people want to rejoice again, and we must accept that responsibility. This team did many good things, but during the three years behind us, it got a little lost, and the results were not great. However, we left behind our goals, all of which we had set. We really miss the fans; we know what synergy we have with them when the stands are full. I hope that we will be good again and we have a great obligation to the Croatian people.
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