Dalić Comments on Modrić Success, Upcoming National Team Preparations

Daniela Rogulj

After a memorable summer and the fantastic success of the Croatia national football team, new challenges await our ‘Vatreni’. 

The World Cup finalists will kick off with a friendly match against European champion Portugal in Faro on September 6th, and five days later, Croatia will head to Elche, Spain, to play their first match in UEFA’s new Nations League competition, reports Slododna Dalmacija on August 31, 2018. 

The Croatia national team will reunite on September 3rd in Portugal, where they will stay through September 9th when they travel to Spain.

“We are looking forward to the friendly match with Portugal, and then the start of the Nations League and the match against Spain,” said coach Zlatko Dalić.

The coach has called upon 26 players for the upcoming action, which does not include Danijel Subašić, Mario Mandžukić, and Vedran Ćorluka, who have retired from their national team duties. There is also no Ivan Strinić in the lineup, as he had to temporarily break from his career due to heart problems.

“There will be plenty of new players and new names. Two years of work for the European Championships is ahead of us, which is our main goal,” the coach added.

Croatia will continue to be led by captain Luka Modrić, who on Thursday was declared UEFA’s ‘Player of the Year’. Modrić was selected in front of the Portugal national team captain and former Real Madrid attacker, and now a new member of Juventus, Cristiano Ronaldo, as well as Egyptian attacker and Liverpool star Mohamed Salah.

Modrić has achieved incredible success this year, and just over one month ago, he was also named the best player of the World Cup in Russia. 

“Luka has won four Champions League titles with Real Madrid, three in a row, and the culmination was winning second place in the World Cup. I hope this is not Luka’s last prize this year. There is still the award for the best footballer in the world and I think Luka deserves it. The FIFA award would be the crown of his career,” Dalić said.

“I know how much Luka appreciates the team and the team’s success, but this is an individual prize and a great acknowledgment to him, and this is a recognition to all of us who are around him and working with him.”

Dalić said that he had not heard from Modrić, but added that he would see him on Monday when the national team gets together. 

“I know that Luka is happy and proud. I am proud as his coach, and I believe all Croats are. We have not spoken, but we will see each other on Monday,” Dalić emphasized.

After the World Cup, Dalić made it clear that he was unhappy with some things within HNS and the attempts to sack him after the Peru defeat on the US tour. However, after talks with the president of the Croatian Football Federation Davor Šuker, an agreement was reached to continue Dalić’s cooperation with the national team. Šuker and Dalić openly discussed all of the issues the coach faced during his current mandate and agreed to extend his contract. The coach did not want to talk too much about the subject.

“There is no point in talking about it. It’s in the past, it’s behind me. We will go further, these little things and problems do not need to be discussed and we do not need to return to them. The most important thing is to move on. We’re heading to the European Championships. There is a lot of work ahead of us and that is the most important thing. We are taking on new challenges. I am always happy and positive. I do not need to be dissatisfied, especially after winning the silver in Russia,” he said.

Dalić could not avoid the question of the embarrassing move by new Croatia national team player Marko Livaja, who after the match between AEK and Hungarian Champion Videoton, struck opposing player Danko Lazović with his leg. The Croatian striker immediately received a red card, and now is threatened with a fierce punishment by the Disciplinary Commission of the European Football Federation (UEFA).

“I’ll talk to Livaja when we get together. Of course, players have to be careful with their behavior and watch their image. I can’t comment too much, we’ll talk about it during preparations,” he said.

The coach also revealed a bit more about Ivan Strinić who had to temporarily halt his career due to heart problems. His routine check with new club AC Milan exposed an initial heart hypertrophy, meaning that he has increased heart muscle volume and cannot train with his club until further notice.

“His situation is getting better. This is a preventive thing that he has to go through. He had another test that is OK, but we’ll see when he will start training,” said Dalić.

He also commented on the statement of Ronaldo’s agent Jorge Mendes, who said that Modrić winning the best player in Europe is ridiculous because the award should be given to Ronaldo.

“That doesn’t even deserve a comment,” Dalić concluded. 


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