There were no surprises on the list of 32 names that Croatian national head coach Zlatko Dalic announced on Monday in the official press release by the Croatian Football Federation (HNS-CFF).
These players will have a chance to make it to the final 23-man squad that will take part in the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia this summer.
Led by 32-year-old captain of the national team and Real Madrid star midfielder Luka Modric, Dalic’s list includes all the other experienced international players like Lokomotiv Moscow defender Vedran Corluka, Barcelona midfielder Ivan Rakitic, Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic
and Inter Milan winger Ivan Perisic.
“This list includes most of the players that carried the load in the qualifying matches and that deserve most of the credit for the success of our national team. There are some new names as well and there are some players that were very close to making the list that will be on our radar for the future,” Dalic said in a statement.
For most of the players the club season came to an end during the weekend but some of them still have some big matches ahead. Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic will try to win the UEFA Champions League title for the third year in a row with Real Madrid, while Dejan Lovren will try to stop them from doing that and help bring the trophy to Liverpool.
“I am very happy that a number of our players were fighting for club trophies at the end of this season and came out on top. We are proud that at least one of the Croatian players will win the UEFA Champions League trophy for the sixth year in a row. This shows the high quality that we have in our national team and gives us a reason to be very optimistic about our chances at the World Cup,” the Croatian head coach said.
Dalic will shorten his list in the following week and publish it on May 21. Five days later the invited players will start the preparation for the World Cup.
Croatia has been drawn in Group D along with two-time World Cup winners Argentina, World Cup debutants Iceland and African powerhouse Nigeria.
After facing Nigeria on June 16, on June 21 Croatia will face Argentina in Nizhny Novgorod and on June 26 they’ll face Iceland in Rostov-on-Don.
To get in the right playing form and pick the best team for the games at the World Cup, the Croatian squad will play two friendlies. On June 3, Croatia and Brazil will clash in Liverpool. Five days later Croatia will host Senegal in Osijek.
“I wish that all of our players remain healthy and [I hope they will] be ready when we start the training camp. I know that all of them are eager to get together and start with the preparations. We will do everything in our powers to justify the trust, love and expectations of our fans,” Dalic said.
During the World Cup, the Croatian team will stay in the St. Petersburg area, where the 23-man squad and members of staff will arrive on June 11.
GOALKEEPERS: Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Lovre Kalinic (Gent), Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Karlo Letica (Hajduk Split)
DEFENDERS: Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Ivan Strinic (Sampdoria), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Sime Vrsaljko
(Atletico Madrid), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kyiv), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), Matej Mitrovic (Club Brugge), Borna Barisic (Osijek), Zoran Nizic (Hajduk Split), Duje Caleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg), Borna Sosa (Dinamo Zagreb)
MIDFIELDERS: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Mateo
Kovacic (Real Madrid), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Marcelo Brozovic (Internazionale), Marko Rog (Napoli), Mario Pasalic (Spartak Moscow), Filip Bradaric (Rijeka)
STRIKERS: Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Ivan Perisic (Internazionale), Nikola Kalinic (Milan), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Marko Pjaca (Schalke 04), Ante Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Duje Cop (Standard Liege), Ivan Santini (Caen)