Croatia's Dalic mixes youth and experience in bid for World Cup success, Latest Football News - The New Paper

Croatia's Dalic mixes youth and experience in bid for World Cup success

ZAGREB – Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic named a 26-man squad with a blend of new and experienced players for the World Cup in Qatar, pairing the expertise of veterans like Luka Modric and Domagoj Vida with younger talent like Josko Gvardiol.

Croatia finished top of their Nations League group ahead of world champions France and Denmark, and the 2018 runners-up will be riding a wave of momentum heading into the tournament.

They open their World Cup campaign in Qatar against Morocco on Nov 23 and also face Belgium and Canada in Group F.

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

“However, there are other national teams that have such ambitions, the most important is the first match with Morocco.

“The (Croatia) team from Russia 2018 was second in the world, and when you look at where those players played, they were all top clubs. One player was from the Croatian league, and now there are seven or eight of them.

“However, I believe in them. Luck is that young players have older players alongside them to mature... I believe these players can do a lot.”

The Croats will gather in Zagreb on Nov 13 and 14, before travelling to Riyadh for a final friendly match with Saudi Arabia on Nov 16.

Dalic’s men will then travel two days later to their base camp in Qatar, where the World Cup kicks off on Nov 20.

Meanwhile, Switzerland coach Murat Yakin will lean on experience, naming several veterans, including Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri, in his 26-man squad.

“We were spoiled for choice in some positions,” Yakin said.

“Many players have delivered convincing performances in recent weeks and months. But in the end I had to limit myself to 26 names. I’m convinced that these 26 players can always help us to achieve our goals.”

Switzerland open their World Cup campaign against Cameroon on Nov 24 and also face Brazil and Serbia in Group G.

Croatia squad

Goalkeepers: Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ivica Ivusic (NK Osijek), Ivo Grbic (Atletico Madrid)

Defenders: Domagoj Vida (AEK Athens), Dejan Lovren (Zenit St Petersburg), Borna Barisic (Rangers), Josip Juranovic (Celtic), Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig), Borna Sosa (VfB Stuttgart), Josip Stanisic (Bayern Munich), Martin Erlic (Sassuolo), Josip Sutalo (Dinamo Zagreb)

Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), Mario Pasalic (Atalanta), Nikola Vlasic (Torino), Lovro Majer (Stade Rennais), Kristijan Jakic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Luka Sucic (Salzburg)

Forwards: Ivan Perisic (Tottenham Hotspur), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim ), Bruno Petkovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Mislav Orsic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ante Budimir (Osasuna), Marko Livaja (Hajduk Split)

Switzerland squad

Goalkeepers: Gregor Kobel (Borussia Dortmund), Yann Sommer (Borussia Monchengladbach), Jonas Omlin (Montpellier), Philipp Kohn (RB Salzburg)

Defenders: Manuel Akanji (Manchester City), Eray Comert (Valencia), Nico Elvedi (Borussia Monchengladbach), Fabian Schar (Newcastle), Silvan Widmer (Mainz), Ricardo Rodriguez (Torino), Edimilson Fernandes (Mainz)

Midfielders: Michel Aebischer (Bologna), Xherdan Shaqiri (Chicago Fire), Renato Steffen (Lugano), Granit Xhaka (Arsenal), Denis Zakaria (Chelsea), Fabian Frei (Basel), Remo Freuler (Nottingham Forest), Noah Okafor (RB Salzburg), Fabian Rieder (Young Boys), Ardon Jashari (Luzern)

Forwards: Breel Embolo (Monaco), Ruben Vargas (Augsburg), Djibril Sow (Frankfurt), Haris Seferovic (Galatasaray), Christian Fassnacht (Young Boys)

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