World Cup 2022: Veteran Modric Spearheads Croatia Campaign

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic named his World Cup squad on Wednesday, with the 2018 runners up led by veteran captain Luka Modric.

Dalic guided the side to the final four years ago, where they lost to France, a historic achievement for a country of 3.9 million people.

“We are optimists with a reason but have to be realistic,” Dalic told reporters presenting his 26-man squad.

“We’ll go step by step, we are rather self-confident after the Nations League matches 

In September, they secured their place in the last four of the Nations League.

“There is no pressure, no big euphoria. The first game will be the most important,” Dalic said.

“Now we think (on how) to pass the group first,” he added.

Luca Modric

Croatia play Morocco in their opening Group F match on November 23 before meeting Canada and Belgium.

Modric, 37, said recently he would end his international career after the World Cup in Qatar.

Apart from the Real Madrid star, veteran players include defenders Domagoj Vida and Dejan Lovren, both of whom Dalic stressed are in good shape.

Asked to compare the team with the one four years ago Dalic said the then squad “played together for ten years before being rewarded in Russia”.

“They are potent and capable, but it (Croatia success) will not be possible without older ones.”

The 37-year-old midfielder, who was voted player of the tournament in Russia 2018, also represented Croatia at Germany 2006 and Brazil 2014.

Tottenham’s Ivan Perisic and Chelsea midfielder Mateo Kovacic are also in the 26-man squad.

Croatia, who finished runners-up in Russia, are in Group E in Qatar, along with Belgium, Canada and Morocco.

West Ham’s Nikola Vlasic, who is currently on loan at Torino, is also in the squad, along with Scottish Premiership defenders Borna Barisic, of Rangers, and Celtic’s Josip Juranovic.

Dejan Lovren, 33, the former Liverpool and Southampton centre-back – who now plays at Zenit St Petersburg – returns after playing in the 2014 and 2018 World Cup finals.

Croatia beat Gareth Southgate’s England side in the semi-finals in Russia before losing 4-2 to France in the final.

It was their best performance in five appearances at the World Cup finals. Their previous best was a third-placed finish at France 1998 – the first World Cup finals following the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.

They go into the 2022 finals in good form after recently winning their Nations League group ahead of world champions France and Denmark.

As well as retaining a number of players from their 2018 side, Croatia also have some rising stars, such as 20-year-old RB Leipzig defender Josko Gvardiol.

“The Nations League gave us the right to have high expectations, we played top matches and we are rightly optimistic,” said Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic.


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