Zlatko Dalic Revealed the Plan for Switzerland, Upcoming Nations League Campaign

Daniela Rogulj



October 6, 2020 – After the Croatia national team gathered on Monday in St. Gallen, coach Zlatko Dalic revealed the plan for Switzerland and the upcoming Nations League campaign against Sweden and France.

The Croatia national football team gathered on Monday in St. Gallen before three crucial October exams – a friendly match against Switzerland on Wednesday, and the Nations League campaign in Zagreb against Sweden (October 11) and France (October 14).

Unfortunately, coach Zlatko Dalic is left without Sime Vrsaljko once again.

“Unfortunately, we are left without Vrsaljko again. This is new news; he was injured again in training a few days ago, so he will not be with us at this gathering. I’m sorry he’s not here again because he’s back; he was with us after a long time. As for the other players, we still don’t know the whole situation to the end. According to the latest information, Badelj will still come, and we are waiting for news about Brekalo. I hope that everyone will be together, except that we were already left without Rebic.”

Analyzing the September matches, Dalic points to two completely different approaches against Portugal and France.

“We had two heavy defeats, but the approach was bad only against Portugal. We were not ourselves in that game; there was no aggression, running, duels. We encountered a much stronger opponent at the time; Portugal was better in all segments of the game. Against France, this was not the case, we were much better then. We played a good game that we did not deserve to lose, in the analysis we saw, for example, that we ran three kilometers more than France.”

However, deconcentration in some situations, a drop in responsibility, and two interruptions contributed to the defeat. We were great until the 43rd minute, dominated, absolutely controlled the game. And then two unseen mistakes happened to us, so instead of going 1:0 at half time, we lose 1:2. In such a situation, it was not easy to enter the continuation of the match, but we got back into the game, equalized, and then come two interruptions that destroyed us. In Zagreb, however, I expect a different game. We are constantly on par with France and we always lose. I expect that we will be better this time, the players are a month deeper into training and competitive form, and they will certainly come to this gathering in a much better position.”

For the first time, Croatia will play three matches in a gathering. What is Dalic’s plan? Are the Nations League matches more important than the friendly match with Switzerland, and how does Dalic intend to share the playing time amongst players?

“There is little time and a lot of games. Not all players will be able to withstand that, and that is why the list is a bit wider. My goal is to give the opportunity against Switzerland to players who have played less so far and who have not always been on the national team. We want to see them, which means we will play against Switzerland with a team that will be quite mixed. Of course, the Nations League is important to us, we want to stay in the elite group, and we must focus all our efforts on the matches against Sweden and France in Zagreb. These are two important matches, we will do our best to win at least one in order to stay in the elite group.”

What answers would Dalic like to get against Switzerland?

“We want to see players who have not been in the national team circle and are playing well in their clubs. They all deserve a call and now have the opportunity to impose themselves and show that we can count on them in the near future. My rule is already known, it is difficult to get in and out of the national team, but given the circumstances in which frequent absences of players occur, we must find certain solutions. We said that we are preparing the team for the European Championship, and this is an opportunity to see some new faces.”

Andrej Kramaric scored again and is still the leading scorer in the Bundesliga. What is his role in the team?

“The task of me as a coach is to find the best solutions for all players in the system in which Croatia plays. Kramaric played in several positions in the national team, and in the end, he took us to the World Cup in Russia with two goals when he played against Ukraine. So, there are no doubts on that issue. We will see the situation, and I will try to make Kramaric play in a position where he is the best for the Croatia national team. In any case, my task is to make the best use of its qualities.”

Ivan Rakitic said goodbye to the national team, and Ante Rebic is out due to injury. How much does that change the concept of the Croatia national team’s game, and is Kovacic or Vlasic closer to a staring 11 spot?

“We will see who will be in the starting lineup, everyone will get a chance, and I need to use Kovacic and Vlasic in the right way. They have already proven that they can do it. I am sorry that Rakitic is no longer with us, but younger players are coming who will have to replace him. It will not be easy for them at all, they will need time and experience, but Kramaric, Vlasic, and Kovacic can also jump into that position. In general, we have good solutions.”

How important is the return of Luka Modric?

“Very important. Luka is the leader of our game and the leader on the pitch; he is very important to me as a coach, the staff, and players. With Luka, players feel safer on the pitch, and everyone is 15 percent better. I am looking forward to Luka’s arrival; he is healthy and ready. We did the right thing when we released him from obligations in September; we gave him a chance to be better at both Real and the national team. Luka was never questioned, he always gave his best, the only thing that matters is that he is healthy,” concluded Dalic.

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