The Croatian national football team began preparations on Monday for the World Cup playoffs against Greece later this week.
Excited fans gathered at Hitrec-Kacijan field in Zagreb on Monday evening to welcome the Croatian national football team for their first training ahead of their critical matches against Greece this week, reports Gol.hr on November 6, 2017.
The practice, which new coach Zlatko Dalić allowed open to the public to encourage Croatian football fans before these crucial games, saw dedicated followers of football rush to the stands cheering, despite the poor Zagreb weather they had to endure.
The last open training of the Croatian national team was before the unlucky match against Iceland, roughly one year ago. Zlatko Dalić decided to offer this once again as part of his first domestic engagement, and around 200 spectators braved the weather for the gathering. It was imperative for coach Dalić to mobilize the audience before the home game against Greece, and this training is a step in the right direction.
While Dalić is doing everything he can to lift the atmosphere around the national team this week, this time around, the support and interest of the national team does not seem to be in question. So far, over 20,000 tickets have been sold for the game on Thursday, and the East, West, and Northern tribunes are already sold out as of today. HNS announced this evening that they have opened the Upper North and Upper West tribunes for ticket sales.
While the team’s first practice on Monday was recuperative, Tuesday and Wednesday’s intensive training will be used to test Dalić’s strategy against Greece.
Unfortunately, HNS announced the news that the team will be without Milan Badelj against Greece due to an injury. We have also learned that Mario Mandžukić may be dealing with an injury as well and will be training separately from the team.
Greece has also received some bad news this week as Roma defender Kostas Manolas is unable to participate in the first leg of the duel due to a ban by FIFA. Papastathopoulos is also in question.
What Croatia may have to worry about more, however, is the seven players that could miss the game in Piraeus if head official Gianluca Rocchi is keen to give out yellow cards. These players are Marcelo Brozović, Nikola Kalinić, Ivan Perišić, Marko Rog, Domagoj Vida and Šime Vrsaljko.
Croatia and Greece will meet in Zagreb at Maksimir Stadium on Thursday, November 9, 2017. Kickoff is at 20:45.