The Croatia national team gathered in Zagreb on Monday to begin preparations for their Nations League match against England on Friday.
This Friday, October 12, Croatia will welcome England to an empty Rujevica stadium in Rijeka for the Nations League. Croatia will play in their second match of the new UEFA competition, which they opened with a difficult 0:6 defeat to Spain in the first round, reports Goal.hr on October 8, 2018.
Rujevica will be empty as the result of a UEFA punishment from 2015 when a swastika was noticed on the pitch at Poljud in a qualifying game for Euro 2016 against Italy. The game against England is the final portion of Croatia’s punishment, who will be able to play in front of fans again after Friday.
“This will be the first time I’ve played without fans in my career,” said Zlatko Dalić.
Before the team gathered in Zagreb today, coach Dalić spoke of the injuries plaguing Croatia ahead of England – and there are quite a few.
“Brozović is injured, Barišić has a ruptured muscle, Santini has a cut, we will see how Šime Vrsaljko’s knee will react, and we will have to take a closer look at Lovre Kalinić to see what’s going on with him. If he cannot play, I will definitely call up Sluga from Rijeka,” said Dalić, who played Marko Rog as the right back in the game against Spain when Vrsaljko had to come off the pitch.
“I have not given up on this idea. He can play there,” said the boss, who also revealed if there was any truth to the story that raised a lot of dust recently, and that is the return of Mario Mandžukić to the national team.
“Mandžo? He has decided and is playing fantastically for Juventus. Who would not want such a player? But we respect his decision,” added Dalić.
The Croatia national team gathered in Zagreb at noon and will play a friendly match against NK Bjelovar at 4 pm on Tuesday.