Zagreb, Aug 20 (IANS) Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic on Monday made eight changes in his latest squad for the upcoming football matches in September.
Following their run to the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, several of Croatia’s more experienced stars have retired from international football, giving younger players a chance to take their places, reports Xinhua news agency.
Notable absentees include Mario Mandzukic, Vedran Corluka and Danijel Subasic. There is also no recall for Nikola Kalinic, after the Atletico Madrid striker was removed from the side during the World Cup after refusing to come on as a substitute against Nigeria.
Striker Andrej Kramaric is not in the side because of injury, while defender Ivan Strinic has put his football career on hold after a heart problem was discovered.
Despite the absence of several established names, the new Croatian squad will once again be led by talismanic captain Luka Modric. The presence of the Real Madrid midfielder and 2018 World Cup Golden Ball winner in the team is a significant boost for Croatia, with speculation that he might also have withdrawn from international football after the World Cup.
The eight new faces in the team are Karlo Letica, Borna Barisic, Antonio Milic, Matej Mitrovic, Ivan Santini, Marko Livaja, Marko Rog and Mario Pasalic.
Croatia will play a friendly match against Portugal in Faro on September 6, before meeting Spain in their UEFA Nations League opener in Elche on September 11.
“Two great challenges are ahead of us,” commented Dalic. “Matches against great opponents and we certainly want to continue to represent Croatia the way we did in Russia — courageously, engagingly and with quality.”
The Croatia squad:
Goalkeepers: Lovre Kalinic (Gent/BEL), Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo/CRO) Karlo Letica (Brugge/BEL).
Defenders: Domagoj Vida (Besiktas/TUR), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool/ENG), Sime Vrsaljko (Inter/ITA), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kyiv/UKR), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen/GER), Matej Mitrovic (Brugge/BEL), Borna Barisic (Glasgow Rangers/SCO), Antonio Milic (Anderlecht/BEL).
Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid/ESP), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona/ESP), Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea/ENG), Milan Badelj (Lazio/ITA), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter/ITA), Marko Rog (Napoli/ITA), Mario Pasalic (Atalanta/ITA), Filip Bradaric (Cagliari Calcio/ITA)
Forwards: Ivan Perisic (Inter/ITA), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim/GER), Ante Rebic (Eintracht/GER), Marko Pjaca (Fiorentina/ITA), Ivan Santini (Anderlecht/BEL), Marko Livaja (AEK/GRE).