Photo: HRT Screenshot
September 4, 2023 – Croatia national football team coach Zlatko Dalić held a press conference ahead of the upcoming Euro 2024 qualifiers. Croatia plays against Latvia on Friday in Rijeka and Armenia away on September 11.
“A new competition and new challenges. We have two games ahead of us against opponents who, according to their rating and on paper, should be easy, but we must not think so. We have to be serious and take our opponents very seriously and go step by step. Latvia is the first match. We need to prepare well. I wouldn’t want us to take our opponents lightly,” said Zlatko Dalić.
“We need Euro points. Every point and win is important. I expect that today we will all come together and be healthy and ready as we have always been. I am happy about the fact that our boys are playing well at their clubs, that there were good transfers, and 11 players left for better situations,” said the coach.
Journalists asked about the situation with Hajduk Split player Marko Livaja because many did not believe Dalić’s reasoning for not inviting Livaja because of a possible UEFA punishment.
“I said everything in the press release. I won’t expand on that topic. I have to take care of everything about the national team and rating. I won’t get into any games. I make decisions and stand firmly behind them. Everything else is games, and I’m not interested in games. I make decisions and stand behind them.”
He emphasized that none of the players are injured, and he also commented on Marcelo Brozović’s departure to Saudi Arabia:
“We are all skeptics about that league and the quality. I was there ten years ago. Maybe there was a quality problem then, but now we have to follow that league because the top players are there. There’s Ronaldo, Brozović, Benzema. That’s a very big level. Brozović has 5-6 games, perhaps stronger than in Italy in terms of opponents, and for him, it is unquestionable that he will give his all and run. I don’t expect it to be worse or better because of that.”
He also referred to the transfer window and the fact that many players changed clubs.
“I don’t discuss the transfer window with the players. That’s not my job. They know that they have my support whatever they decide and that is very important. I’m glad that Borna Sosa went to Ajax because he stagnated a bit, and Ajax doesn’t take players they haven’t scouted well, and now I expect him to be better, fresher, and happier. Gvardiol and Kovačić went to City, and Kovačić became the best Manchester City player. A coach like Pep Guardiola recognized him, regardless of our local criticism. What nonsense is that? I’m looking forward to it. Livaković had to leave in order not to remain the eternal goalkeeper of Dinamo, even though it was his wish. But you have to go look for new challenges. At the end of the whole story, when your football career ends, no one asks you where you were but whether you made money.”
Speaking about the match against Latvia, Dalić said that the only trap is to take them lightly.
“Everything they’ve lost so far was by a pinch. They took a point from Wales. That hasn’t been a problem so far, but I have to emphasize it because we want three points and a full Rujevica and support. Then we’ll be real. We only care about victory. We played in Rijeka against Cyprus and Malta; we struggled, and it was difficult.
I would most like to give everyone a chance, for everyone to bear the same burden. That would be the most realistic, the most optimal, but the most important thing is the result. We will not mix a lot because we have to be serious in our work and lineup preparation. I have no doubt that if I give anyone a chance, they will give their best and we will win the game. Let’s not be fooled. I would like to spread the load,” Dalić concluded.
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