The young Croatia national football team will play at the European Championship after a turbulent qualifying campaign and will soon compete in the group stage against Portugal (March 25), Switzerland (March 28), and England (March 31). A spot in the quarterfinals will be won by the two best national teams from each group.
The list of players for the European Championship includes 23 names, including three goalkeepers.
Goalkeepers: Adrian Šemper (Chievo), Dominik Kotarski (Ajax), Ivan Nevistić (Rijeka)
Defenders: Borna Sosa (Stuttgart), Domagoj Bradarić (Lille), Marin Šverko (Saarbrücken), Joško Gvardiol (Dinamo), Martin Erlić (Spezia), Krešimir Krizmanić (Gorica), Mario Vušković (Hajduk)
Midfielders: Nikola Moro (Dinamo Moskva), Lovro Majer (Dinamo), Kristijan Bistrović (Kasimpasa), Darko Nejašmić (Hajduk), Mihael Žaper (Osijek), Bartol Franjić (Dinamo), Luka Sučić (RB Salzburg)
Attackers: Luka Ivanušec (Dinamo), Sandro Kulenović (Rijeka), Petar Musa (Union Berlin), Dario Špikić (Gorica), Dario Vizinger (Wolfsberger), Marko Divković (Dunajska Streda)
Croatia will face three demanding exams at this year’s European Championship. Coach Igor Bišćan believes that his players have something to say in the competition against Portugal, Switzerland, and England.
“England is a category unto themselves, extremely strong and one of the favorites of the whole competition. They all play at a high level, not only relying on physical strength but also adding tactical awareness and technique, and imagination. Their value is close to the world’s largest A-selections. Portugal is a copy of their senior team, they cultivate the same combinatorial style, and they are challenging and experienced enough in competitive football. They will take advantage of any carelessness and punish it. They have several individuals from the world’s biggest clubs; they are where our players would one day want to be. They may not have adequate minutes, but their quality is indisputable. England and Portugal should go further. Switzerland is tough, solid, organized, and a couple of players from our region give them a dose of unpredictability. However, we are also good; it will be a demanding group, a real test to see where we are concerning the best and those close to us,” he said.
In the first two group games, Croatia will not count on the suspended Borna Sosa, but in cooperation with Zlatko Dalić, they have yielded a solution.
“Sosa is too important, good and high quality not to count on him, and it is to be assumed that the last game in the group will be important. If the last game does not decide on something, he will join the A-selection, which speaks volumes about his form. I am glad that Dalić gave us Bradarić, we are cooperating very well, and he showed a correct attitude. We have a great situation with high-level players,” Bišćan explained.
Some players also bring experience from the last European Championship, but this will be somewhat different due to the format change.
“That experience can help, but unfortunately, we don’t have Boško Šutal due to a foot injury, and it really hit us, as we are the thinnest on the right defender. A tournament like this is a nice experience for every young footballer’s career and an opportunity to present his talent on a phenomenal stage. This competition is specific; there is no time to play. We gather on Monday and Tuesday, and the match is already on Thursday – it should be more suitable for individually stronger teams. At the same time, it does not allow others to cancel that advantage. He who is ready from the first second to switch from the club rhythm without stumbling will do well. I’m sorry that there are no fans, Koper is close, but it’s best to get out of the group, so maybe something will change for the quarterfinals,” concluded Bišćan.
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