After a convincing triumph against Kosovo with a final score of 6:0, making it a bit easier for Croatian National Football fans to breathe, today Croatia faces host Finland, plagued with injuries and reduced to a roster of only 19 players.
Vedran Ćorluka is the mystery man for the match today, as we may not know until the last moments before the game if he is fit to play. 22 year-old HNK Rijeka player Matej Mitrović, who replaced Ćorluka during the match against Kosovo, may be included in the starting lineup in place of Ćorluka against Finland, reports Slobodna Dalmacija.
“Ćorluka is very doubtful and it all depends on the last 24 hours (before the match). If we believe that he can play, he will, but if there is any doubt that he can play and that it could worsen the situation, we will not take any chances. Mitrović has shown that we can count on him,” Čačić explained.
Josip Pivarić is not even close to his potential, as his injuries have kept him off the pitch for more than than half a year. Čačić must decide if he is fit for this match as well.
In the midfield, Mateo Kovačić, and especially Andrej Kramarić, have compensated for the absences of Luka Modrić and Ivan Rakitić.
“Kramarić has played in that position for years and can participate in the organization of the game. Kovačić plays in Luka’s position, and is playing more at Real Madrid, and that showed on the field. I am satisfied with the individual performances, although it was obvious that a few players are outside of their usual competitive rhythm. Brozović hasn’t been playing much recently, it was clear that the Pivarić returned after a long break, and I, all in all, am very pleased with the performance against Kosovo with regard to all of the circumstances,” Čačić said.
The next two World Cup qualifying matches for Croatia are against Finland today in Finland and Iceland in November at home – both incredibly important to secure wins as first place in the group leads directly to the World Cup.
“The goal of today is a clear three points. It will not be easy because Finland is hosting, and they showed against Iceland that they are not an easy team to beat. If we repeat how we played against Kosovo, with all of us all concentrated and focused for 90 minutes, then it is believed that we will achieve a victory, with all respect to the host,” Čačić concluded.
Game time tonight is at 18h.