Croatia Handball Gathers in Zagreb to Begin Preparations for World Cup

Daniela Rogulj

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Croatia handball is getting ready for the World Cup!

Sixteen handball players gathered in Zagreb on Thursday, who were selected by the Croatia men’s national team coach Lino Červar for the first part of the preparations for the upcoming World Cup in Germany and Denmark, scheduled for January 10 to 27, 2019, reports on December 20, 2018. 

There was one change in the initial lineup, as PPD Zagreb player Leon Silva will miss the first part of preparations due to an illness. Luka Šebetić, the right-winger on the French club Tremblay, has joined in his place. 

Until December 23, six trainings will be held in Zagreb which will feature players Marin Šego, Filip Ivić, Zlatko Horvat, Josip Božić Pavletić, Manuel Štrlek, David Mandić, Marin Šipić, Halil Jaganjac, Alen Blažević, Luka Cindrić, Igor Karačić, Lovro Jotić, Jakov Vranković, Josip Vekić and Ivan Sršen.

In this phase of the preparations, the Croatia national team will work on their form, with particular emphasis on the defense. Červar plans to use three defensive systems.

“The defense will be important; it is the foundation of all the victories. We are looking for a very mobile, aggressive defense. Aggressiveness brings dominance. A defensive team that only reacts is certainly less likely than a team that initiates change. I always insist on this,” Lino Červar said ahead of the first stage of preparations. Croatia will begint their World Cup journey in Germany, where they will play in Munich in Group B against Iceland, Japan, Macedonia, Bahrain and the current the European Champion Spain.

“Already the first opponent, Iceland, is very dangerous. They changed a few players, refreshed the team and brought back coach Gunnarsson, who was an Olympic winner, after all. We expect an adamant, strong opponent. Our maturity will be tested from the start.”

From the first training session, Červar will start looking for attacking solutions on the left-wing position, where Croatia has injured players.

“In the attack we have a problem on the left, where we do not have Mamić, or Pavlović who is a universal player. We will try to cover the position with the same universal player, and we also have the young Halil Jaganac. We will see what’s going on with Slišković, and Duvnjak can play in the position too.”

The first part of preparations will be qualifiers for a few players, who will use these six training sessions to fight for a place among those who will participate in the final preparations from December 26 in Poreč, where Croatia will host the HEP Croatian Cup from January 3 to 5, 2019, against Italy and Montenegro.

“For the first time since I’ve been with the national team, we will go with 16 players. We will be looking for players who can handle pressure, and look at the character of the players,” said Červar, adding that changes are possible after the competition begins.

“The national team has a system in which we are looking for the best players. If we need to, we will also make changes. Munich is near; it is coming soon.”

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