The Croatia national football team will play a friendly match against Slovenia in Doha on Saturday at 3 pm, which will be an excellent opportunity for coach Zlatko Dalić to try out the new system.
“I expect the players to show what we have been doing these two days, and we have had great training sessions these two days. I can tell you right away which 11 will start tomorrow. Livaković will be in goal; the back three will be Ćaleta Car, Gvardiol, Pongračić; Perišić, and Juranović will be on the wing, and the three in the midfield are Jakić, Modrić, and Kovačić. Kramarić and Budimir lead the attack.
The decision to play here is one hundred percent right; we are here to get acquainted with the conditions that await us at the World Cup. I need to emphasize that this is great that we have already qualified so we can play more relaxed.”
Croatia has not yet secured a place in the second pot for the World Cup group draw:
“There is no relaxation, and we have to play to win, we have two good opponents, and we have to play at the highest level.”
Joško Guardiola is one of Croatia’s best new players.
“It all depends on Joško; he has shown his potential, he has to work every day and prove himself again, that is the most important thing. Nevertheless, we got a great player for the national team.”
Dalić spoke about their decision to come to Doha for these friendly matches:
“I worked hard to come here, to see the conditions; I wanted to feel this place as a team. We wanted to play against Qatar, but I understand their coach wants some easier opponents. I wish Qatar a lot of luck, they put in a lot of effort, and I have a lot of fond memories here.”
Slovenian journalists were interested in how seriously Croatia was preparing for Slovenia:
“We come here with full respect for Slovenia and Bulgaria; Slovenia has a great coach in Kek, we will have a worthy opponent tomorrow. We were preparing for the game, they have already beaten us once, so we know how dangerous they are. I was one of those who invited Slovenia to this tournament.”
Guardiol was also present at the press conference and commented on the new system:
“I am not unfamiliar with playing three in the back, as we have been practicing this with Leipzig for half a year. The problem with the national team is that we don’t have much time to adjust, but the last two training sessions, we were maximally focused on this, and we will try to transfer that to the game.”
To read more about sports in Croatia, follow TCN’s dedicated page.