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Dalić Names Croatia Squad For Final Euro Qualifier vs. Slovakia

October 28, 2019




Croatia manager Zlatko Dalić will have some decisions to make when the Vatreni take on Slovakia in their final Euro 2020 qualifier in Rijeka on November 16th.



There’s absolutely no surprise who got called up but there could be some surprises when the whistle blows next month at Rujevica. It will be the usual suspects in the Croatian midfield with Modrić, Rakitić, Brozović, Brekalo, Kovačić, Perišić and Vlašić all available. Dinamo goalkeeper Dominik Livaković will start in net and striker Andrej Kramarić should be expected to take his starting spot back from Bruno Petković after returning from injury two weeks ago. Ante Rebić has only played 20 minutes of match football in the past month. Do you start him instead of Brekalo on the right wing? I don’t think so.



Where the selection will get tricky is at defense. Both center backs – Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida – are unavailable due to yellow card suspensions. So who will Dalić go with?



Do you play Tin Jedvaj at right back with Barišić on the left? That would leave Mitrović and Ćaleta-Car to anchor down the central defense. However, Mitrović is returning from a minor injury and hasn’t played at Clubs Brugge the entire month of October. That obviously can change very quickly in the next 2 1/2 weeks. As for Ćaleta-Car, it’s great to see him called up to the senior squad after he snubbed the U-21 side this past summer at Euro 2019. Ćaleta-Car chose to go on a planned vacation instead of suiting up for the Mladi Vatreni. Maybe all is forgiven. Who knows until the Slovakia game?



Croatia will have their midfield and attack lined up perfectly against Slovakia with the defense being the only possible Achilles Heel. Then again, the Vatreni only need one point at home to seal the deal.



Ante Kvartuč
Posted By: Ante Kvartuč 67 comments

  1. Soul Champ says:

    Brekalo at right back?

    He is more seasoned at this point since the last time that they tried that.

    Jedvaj at CB is really his best position.

    Brozovic can shield towards the right back area if need be.

    Need to start your best 11 and get the Rijeka crowd into it from the beginning.

    Brekalo will provide true attacking width down the right flank and can deliver in the final third.

    Other CB can be Čaleta Car or Mitrovic, depending on who is looking better into camp.

    Kramaric ??

    Man he is a natural finisher .. but is he willing to flow with the team?

    Who makes way?

    Vlašić needs to start.

    Petković has delivered and is big.

    But I can see Kramaric scoring 4 more goals for Hoffenheim before we head into camp.

    Plus Rijeka is where he put Europe on notice.

    Dalic has to dial up the right numbers to start this one.

  2. vuki says:

    Kramaric is absolutely my man at striker. Petkovic is inconsistent in my opinion. Both of the last two international breaks, he played great in the first game and then started off well in the second one before fading. Yes Kramaric won’t provide defensively, but his finishing is better than anyone we’ve had in the squad for years. He is a very different player to Mandzukic. Mandzo was a poacher who would simply find a way to score goals with sheer determination as well as some good runs. Kramaric is capable of creating his own chances out of basically nothing. Petkovic has done it a couple times and I definitely think he is better on the ball than Mandzo was, but he should have had minimum 3 goals against both Slovakia and Hungary but missed a good few chances in both. It also seems like a lot of times he tries too hard to score the goal where he’s gone by 2 or 3 defenders rather than simply laying it off or playing an easy one-two pass. Kramaric is selfish in the same way, but he is just simply better and it’s not like they haven’t played with him before. Also, another point that I’m sure people will point out again is the Kramaric doesn’t provide anything defensively. If you watch Petkovic on defense, he does track back a bit more than Kramaric, but he doesn’t really press. It looked like when we would lose the ball, Vlasic would move into the striker role and do the pressing.I personally feel we don’t need a striker to track back that much in this game. We need someone who will stay forward and keep Slovakia from being able to really push forward. The main valuable thing Petkovic brings is height for the aerial duels and would be useful if we need a goal in the second half. Also, Kramaric scored a header against Ukraine to help us make the playoffs before the World Cup, so there’s that.

    As much as I’m not the biggest fan of Bartolec, I’d rather play him at RB than Brekalo. Brekalo is so wasted there and also can end up being a liability defensively. Why make Brozovic cover that when he already covers the CBs? I’m still going Jedvaj there even though he tends to be shaky too. He’s the best defensively and has been playing with us there for over a year. I think based on this squad sheet Dalic is going to have Mitrovic and Caleta-Car start at CB. I would prefer Peric over Mitrovic as he has actually been playing recently while Mitrovic hasn’t, but Mitrovic is still fine I guess.

    I posted my lineup on the other thread but here it is again:
    Kramaric, Perisic, Vlasic, Rebic, Modric, Brozovic, Barisic, Caleta-Car, Peric, Jedvaj, Livakovic

    It just still annoys me that we called up 3 LBs on the U21 squad and at least 2 who I think are better than Melnjak. I’m probably annoying people with the Domagoj Bradaric hype, but I think he is our future LB. He starts almost every game for Lille in Ligue 1, is decent defensively, pretty good going forward, very fast, and skillful on the ball like a winger. Why not give him at start in the friendly and check him out when you have two very capable LBs on the u21 squad in Borna Sosa and David Colina. Also, Mile Skoric over Nikola Katic? I feel like Dalic does it for what people said before, so that people have players who play/played for their hometown clubs.

  3. Maminjo says:

    Not too fussed about who starts between Petković or Kramarić.

    They are both in good form, and even though Krama isn’t known for pressuring opposing defenders, it’s not like Petković does either.

    Both are very technically gifted….with Petković being more physical and a more willing passer… But Krama is the better finisher (even with his headers, despite his shorter stature).

    The toughest decision will be the defenders, but it looks like Dalić will play it safe and go with Ćaleta-Car. Not sure who he will pair him with, but I don’t think he wants to test a brand new pairing in this game.

  4. Maminjo says:

    Vuki, you beat me to my post.

    Petković and Kramarić are both solid options, but we need to stop taking about Krama’s lack of pressing as an issue over Petković (who doesn’t press either).

    But yea, after watching Vlašić’s pressure and defense in the Wales games, I am convinced we need to keep starting him.
    He covers for our striker well.

    Vlašić, Modrić and Brozović need to start.
    Dalić might go with Rakitić, but I think Vlašić is the better option.

    But no Bartolec in this lineup. He defends just as little as Brekalo would at RB, and it’s killing poor Modrić.

    Bartolec needs to be cut from the National Team ASAP, just like Škorić and Meljnak. Too much waste, when we have a LOT of decent defenders and wing backs that we can assess during these practice sessions before a game.

  5. Dannyj says:

    So do we press them first and go for early lead or wait till they press us and counter?
    With our potentially weak D maybe we need to play our ball and really go for a couple goals quick
    I just can’t watch them do they get a goal and sit back shit again

  6. elcroato says:

    Perisic was subbed at half time and he wasn’t injured. He’s a good player, but his team mates didn’t use him when he was open.

  7. Croatianperson85 says:

    @DannyJ – I can’t see us sitting back especially with weaker CB’s. I think Cro comes out playing their game and tries to win instead of sitting back trying to counter.

  8. Dannyj says:

    How bout the karate kick goal against England and that crazy athletic header to Mandzo for Game winner

    Maybe he lost a step or off his game but I think he will find it
    Tho maybe he should have embraced the wing back with Conte system. I’m quite sure that would be useful to us going forward

  9. Canuckcro says:

    Is maya berovic a bosnian serb cetnik..if so ..why is she on our cro sports site..sad what bosnia has become..only normal people to come from there are catholic hrvats and hercegovina hrvats..the others are brainwashed yugo nostalgic junkys..believing in an old road that goes to no where..sad..garbage people everywhere.

  10. CiganJeCigan says:


  11. Dannyj says:

    Interesting line up but no way dalic plays an Oršić over Perisic
    Will be hard not for him to start Raketa Either

  12. Andrej L says:

    Caleta-Car and Mitrovic haven’t been consistent call ups for Dalic and neither have been getting consistent minutes for their respective clubs. I think it’s just logical to assume Dalic will play the guys he’s been calling up and who have been getting consistent minutes for their clubs; Peric and Skoric

    The more debatable positions with Petkovic/Kramaric, Rebic/Brekalo, and Rakitic/Vlasic are great because it makes harder for Slovakia to plan defensively.

  13. Maminjo says:


    There is no way we see a Perić/Škorić CB pairing.

    I don’t think Dalić is serious about Škorić. He called him up because of the game in Osijek because he loves to pander to the crowds and is a big believer in it bringing people together.

    But he can’t just cut him from the team immediately after that. It would just prove that it was a gimmick move. He probably keeps him as a practice dummy, and I’m sure this Škorić dude is a nice guy… But no way does that mean he is good enough to play.

    I think he called up Ćaleta-Car because he intends on starting him.

    Duje is playing regularly, and is on a good club. He also did play in a qualifying game already (when he botched things for the Azeri goal), and in the World Cup against Iceland). Dalić probably always had him pegged as Lovren’s backup.

    He didn’t like that Ćaleta-Car bailed on the U21s, and didn’t call him up since.
    Now… He suddenly calls him up. Why?
    If he had no intention of playing him, then I doubt Dalić would swallow his pride and call Duje up.

  14. vuki says:

    Perisic has to start this game in my opinion. Even if he isn’t in good form. He is our big game player. He helped us qualify for the last Euro and will be up for this game. If he happens to be weak then sub him off at halftime and bring on Brekalo. SImple as that. Vlasic also has to start as he brings attacking and pressing. Kramaric at CAM would only be something I went to if we really needed a goal.

  15. Maminjo says:

    I don’t like Krama in the midfield.

    I’d rather him up top (and only ever there).

    It’s an either or with him up top or Petković. I would never play both of them at the same time.

    We have far too many elite CAM players to bother with Krama being there.

  16. vuki says:

    Yeah, that’s why I would only play him there if we really needed a goal. He basically plays like a second striker there anyway. It was what we did against Nigeria and Russia, two teams that we were heavy favorites to beat, but we also didn’t have any other real options. Modric was our starting CAM and that’s not his main position. Vlasic coming in is exactly what was needed. I just quite simply don’t like a midfield with Modric, Rakitic, and Brozovic. The only time that is acceptable is if we are the underdogs, and even then it’s not great. There is just no real attacking prowess in that midfield. It’s great for possession, but that’s about it.

  17. BZ says:

    Anyone watch if Brekalo broke out of his slump and led his team to victory today in the German Cup game? The guy is due! I have the game on dvr, and will not be checking for responses until after I watch him tonight. Don’t want any spoilers!

  18. BZ says:

    @Truth-Just watched, and it was bad. Brekalo and Wolfsburg got decimated 6-1, hope Dalic didn’t watch. Haven’t seen dominance like that since Spain drubbed us 6-0 when we were without Rebic due to injury.

  19. BZ says:

    You don’t like the World Cup silver winning midfield of Modric, Rakitic, and Brozo? We were favored to win most games and it worked out pretty well.

    I can understand wanting Vlasic over rusty Rakitic, but anytime Rakitic, Modric, and Brozo are on the field together in the inverted triangle, I love it! I can never complain about that trio.

  20. vuki says:


    Yes it is a great midfield and it was our best option at the time with all of them coming off good seasons and performing well all tournament. But our best option NOW is Modric, Brozovic, Vlasic. Not because I think Vlasic is a better player than Rakitic, because he’s not, but because he is a better fit for right now. I guess saying I don’t like it was a bit far, but I just don’t think it is the right choice for a game where we need to be on the front foot. I’m expecting Dalic to go to Rakitic, so hopefully they prove me wrong. Basically depends whether Rakitic wants to prove his worth like he did in the World Cup.

  21. Suba says:

    Dalic needs to stick with the tried and tested line up of the wc

    The game is too much of a risk

    Vlasic or Brekalo can come on at some stage if needed

    That also means Kramaric ahead of Petkovic too

    It’s a good sign we have depth which we never really had even at the 98 wc

    All blazevic could do was put on Silvio maric in wc semi final games

    Times are good my friends have faith

  22. Soul Champ says:

    Vlašić is an absolute must starter.

    He is the true #10 we have needed for years. Plus he has been playing great for over a year.

    Brozovic is the anchor for Inter and runs like he has 4 lungs! Plus he may be due for one of his trademark goals.

    Modrić back healthy and is still his genius Self.

    Rakitic off the bench in any scenario of the match to provide veteran presence.

    It’s the other attacking spots where Dalic has to see what is best for his game plan?

    Be nice to come out aggressive and get the mini crowd hype.

    Brekalo has established how well he plays for Croatia.

    Wolfsburg is a limited club and I am not going to sell him out based on there results.

  23. Crnkovic says:

    unless you are messi its not going to be win win win from the moment you start playing senior football till the day you retire.

    talent is talent.

    for example my friend was saying on monday that he thinks rashford is over-rated because he has not become dominant. but who has he had around him since he broke into the team? a mish mash of fellaini, herrara, lingard etc etc with constantly changing systems. of course he cannot be dominant in that scenario, that would make him better than messi, better than maradona.

    but talent is talent. I think a lot of people on this site panic WAY too much depending on player form at club level. of course its better if a player is playing well at club level, but just because a player doesn’t start every week or score every week at their club doesn’t mean they don’t have huge talent.

    national team is a seperate team with diffrent tactics and different feeling for the player. international football is full of examples of teams who have built a strong cohesive bond within the group and we have seen players from second division teams stepping up in their national team to knock out world class packed teams.

    example i always use is cameroon in 1990. most players were from the cameroon domestic league, some were from second tier french teams where they werent even starters!!!

    the mentality of judging players according to their club reputation is a recipe for disfunctional football and disappointing results. Dalic must build a team in his vision according to what each player can bring. a cohesive team which knows what its doing. not an all star line-up.

    therefore brekalo must play and continue to grow into a key player for us. our style of play is shifting towards attacking football, having being based on pure possession and counter attack in the past, we must let that develop. even if brekalo is bench at club, for us he must play and be given confidence.

    in addition we are WAY too harsh on some of our players. Kovacic is the perfect example. at the moment he is in the first XI of chelsea. look at the bench: willian, giroud, pedro and other top top players.

    france won the world cup with giroud up top. he was a bench player at club level. but his quality and the attributes he brings were need to create a balanced french team. deschamp put him in. he didnt score a goal in the tournament. but his team are world champions

  24. Crnkovic says:

    if you were picking a french team based on club form and player reputation you would have a front 3 with dembele, griezmann, mbappe. that is fantasy football, played on paper, real football is played on grass. good coach knows that and comes up with balanced team

  25. Slavonac from Canada says:

    every player is completely different both physically and mentally. often times its not the lack of technique or skill set that limit a player…its their mental state and overall maturity of many factors.

    some players are very mentally strong and although they may not be skillfully gifted, they are relatively steady and perform on a consistent basis, game in, game out. some “special” types of players have the extra skilled qualities but are affected by mood, insecurities, instability, distractions…and this is what causes them soo many inconsistencies and time to learn to overcome those inconsistent performances.

    take Brozovic vs Perisic. all of us would say Perisic is the bigger game changer in most cases but if we were to review their last 50 games, Brozovic is definitely the more consistent player and Perisic’s performances seems to be more affected by stuff that may be personal or just not liking who he’s playing beside (ie…Strinic).

    when we talk about these young guys being ready to play and able to perform on a consistent level. I think we have some factors to include…playing time at their club, the level of league they play in, their role on their club team.

    as much as I love Rebic, I find him to be a mental mess. if he’s feeling good and is riding a good wave, he’s as dangerous as any great player BUT when he’s moody…he seems to be completely irrelevant…this is the exact same for Perisic.

    players like Modric, Rakitic, and Brozovic seem to be the 3 players we’ve had the most consistency with. players like Vlasic, Brekalo, Kramaric seem to have similar characteristics that help them have consistent performances…and then theres guys like Badelj, Jedvaj, Vida, Lovren, Kovacic…who have talent and can be very steady and useful, but they struggle with confidence and long term stability. they are good professionals with great qualities but each of them are limited and have yet to play at their best level for a long duration.

    when we look at our National Team, I think its very hard to make certain decisions. Brekalo over Rebic? depends on which Rebic we get. Petkovic over Kramaric? I think this has more to do with who we are playing than it does about the players. they are soo different and play differently. Krama is a goal-scorer, Petkovic holds the ball up well, makes fantastic passing plays and can score…not very easy to compare them.

    Kovacic has had a decent spell of games lately, we need to see him continue and not go backwards for 4 or 5 games…and that has been his issue.

  26. Crnkovic says:

    i’m just saying that dalic should pick his best team and that we have lots of good players. doesnt really matter. as long as bartolec doesnt start. i think he is actually quite a promising player. but the other players dont trust him and never pass to him. he is technically ok, but not tough enough at this stage. Perisic, wow that guy really knows how to blow hot and cold. I’ve never seen anything like it. he one game he can look like an absolute world class genius monster for 45 mins, and in the other half look like a man who has just woken up from a coma and cant feel his legs

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  28. Maminjo says:

    For those who are saying we should just stick with our World Cup tested midfield trio of Modrić, Rakitić and Brozović….

    You’re ignoring the fact that this lineup had Mandžukić up top at the World Cup, who was a defensive monster.

    Neither Kramarić nor Petković will match Mandžo’s pressing.

    This is why a player like Vlašić, to me, is a better player to play alongside Modrić and Brozović, than Rakitić.

    However, I don’t think it’s such a travesty if Rakitić starts instead. We’re squabbling about some real luxuries here.

  29. Razbijač says:

    Man, Rebic is really stuck in the Doghouse. He’s on the bench again today!

    You’d think he finally might get a chance, with AC Milan playing at home, against SPAL–one of the worst teams in Italy. But nope, Rebic ridin’ pine.

    Tough to see this guy starting against Slovakia, while his pressing is an asset. We will have the majority of the possession against the Slovaks.

    At any rate, It’s been reported that Dalic might go with Persic–Petkovic–Kramaric in a 3 pronged attack.

    Rebic is very good player, I feel a move away in the January transfer window might just be what he needs to get his career back on track.

  30. Suba says:

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    That’s why Greek blokes are gay

  31. BZ says:

    To be clear, I think Vlasic can start for Rakitic, but I would never question the Rakitic, Modric, and Brozo trio. Good when we are favorites and good when we are underdogs.

    Petco is no Mandzo on D, but he at least tries. Kramaric has different strategy, and it pisses Rebic and Perisic off.

  32. Soul Champ says:

    Actually Blažević DID NOT sub Prosinečki in for injures Boban against France.

    That’s why we lost.

    Hobbled Boban gives the ball away and the rest his history.

    Prosinečki comes on to start second half and we are in business.

    But 2018 washes that away.

    @ Slavonac

    Like the way you break it down.

    Seems that the Splićani have the emotional issues?

    Perišić is an enigma.

    I wonder if he really is slowing down a bit?

    Rebić should get some PT at Milan.

    But if he is rusty then he can’t start.

    Vlašić is the thrust in the #10 hole that will keep Slovakia worried.

    Brekalo is a must.

    Kovačić has been consistent for Chelsea as #8/6.

    He needs to keep on shooting.

    He actually had a strong, albeit inaccurate shot on goal.

    He has more quality to give in the final third.

  33. Suba says:

    Blazevic made a few blunders one of them was keeping Zuti on the bench in a wc semi final

    He really hated the way he played still would have preferred an injured Boban

  34. Poglavnik says:

    Neither Zuti nor Zvone had 90 minutes in em during that tourney. Zuti had more of an attitude about it.
    Sitting 0-0 at the half we weren’t gonna make a change to start the 2nd half.
    If we had 5 or 10 minutes to sit on that lead we would’ve been looking to the bench.

  35. Slavonac from Canada says:

    Soul Champ, its not about Splicani or Licani or any region…its life man! we are first human and our path in life builds our character for the future…we’ve all met people that are incredibly talented/gifted but lack in confidence or mental stability.

    per Zuti back in ’98! I was flustered with Ciro’s decision making about Zuti but I do know the mentality of many coaches and Ciro is no different.

    Prosinecki was one of the most talented players that ever played for Croatia and he was also one of the players that didn’t live the life of an athlete and it frustrated coaches. He was often criticized for drinking too many coffee’s, he drank brandy regularly, he smoked almost 2 packs of cigarettes per day, he drank carbonated drinks all the time (carbonated drinks is actually not good for athlete’s), he didn’t watch his diet at all… if the guy really took care of himself, he could have had a better career.

    back in those day, the head coach had the respect just like a general in the military. players had to be on the pitch on time, without any distractions. they were very attentive to the coach as soon as he appeared on the field, offering all attention and with the attitude of a soldier. that era wasn’t as much about players rights as it was about the coach commanding and executing his orders…things have significantly changed. imagine having a player like Prosinecki, knowing you could improve his performances and also knowing that last night he probably drank half a bottle of rakija and smoked two packs of Marlboro’s and really isn’t in the mood to do much running at practice. several people at Portsmouth commented that Prosinecki would go into a washroom stall at half time to smoke a cigarette. this was not that long ago…back in 2001…then imagine being the head coach of that team while your younger players are eating slices of orange and sucking on Gatorade!

  36. Mile says:

    Crnkovic, sorry Giroud and quality should not be in the same sentence. He is not very good. I remember watching a game with my daughter after the World Cup where he was on a breakaway and I told my daughter, watch him screw this up, and he did, and we both laughed, because we saw how horrible he was at the World Cup. France won because of a combination of Mbappe’s skill, their defense, Greizmann’s dives and FIFA’s corruption. By far, the worst World Cup “champion” ever, and it’s not even close.

  37. Crnkovic says:

    france won the world cup in 98. they had stephan guivarch up front. he was half the player giroud is. As an arsenal fan i can tell you that i have never been giroud’s biggest fan. zero pace. but as a football coach i can tell you that giroud’s first touch, hold up play and awareness of teammates movement is top quality..good header too

  38. Croat Canadian says:

    Yeah Albanian chicks are hot af. Nobody should stress about this match. We play Slovakia at home. I think we should win comfortably. Any update on Vrsaljko? He’s been out for awhile. What ever happened to Strinic?


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  40. Marko says:

    Kramaric – Vlasic

    Rebic – Modric – Rakitic – Brekalo


    Vrsaljko – Lovren- Vida

    3 at the back is tough to play and don’t think we’ve tried that but our midfield as being one of the finest in the world would benefit with Brozo taking the old Niko kovac CDM position with a 3-1-4-2 although our D is questionable with 3 at back, especially now, without our regulars Vrsaljko, Lovren and Vida all missing but full squad I would like Dalic to try one of the 2 …

    Again D is our biggest liability here as Sime, Dejan and Domagoj are missing for the Slovakia game so wouldn’t work well not to mention Dalic every trying 3 at the back is very doubtful. Hopefully Jedvaj, Caleta-car and Barisic keep improving as the pipeline in Mid/Attack consistently looks bright.

    Hope and dream formation if we still had mandzo the energizer workhorse bunny but Kramaric could compensate (no one but Olic had Mario’s constant high pressing work rate) except perhaps bull in china shop rebic !

    Would love to go 4-4-1-1 attack

    Mandzukic (Kramaric)

    Perisic (Vlasic)
    Rebic Brekalo
    Modric Rakitic

    Strinic Lovren Vida Vrsaljko

    Subs – Brozovic, Corluka, Kovacic, Jedvaj, Caleta-Car, Barisic

    Interchange who’s having off form game with Rebic/Brekalo for Perisic if Vlasic takes #10 role. Defense lineup is a lil stale and wishful thinking (unless at full fitness perhaps) but Jedvaj Barisic and Caleta car would fill in adequately

    Just hope we show the form I know we’re capable of against the Slovaks and no reason not to win this game!

    Za Dom Spremni !!!

  41. Marko says:

    Oops that didn’t post right…meant for mid and attack to be

    MandZo(Kramaric post WC)


    Rebic Brekalo
    Modric Rakitic

    Brozovic could take mid spot personally I like his as CDM in the triangle

  42. Marko says:

    Pićka …auto correcting me again lol Ante and Josip on the wings – perhaps too much Sunday funday sjlivovica

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