Croatia were probably expecting a tough test in their opening Euro 2020 outing against England, though what they wouldn’t have been expecting was the subpar performance they produced themselves.
Zlatko Dalic’s side barely laid a glove on the Three Lions at Wembley last Sunday and their 1-0 defeat leaves them facing an uphill battle to qualify from Group D.
Their next game sees them face a Czech Republic side who’ll no doubt be full of confidence following their 2-0 win over Scotland earlier this week, and the 2018 World Cup finalists will need to be at their best if they’re to prevail when the two sides meet on Friday.
Here’s how 90min thinks Dalic could set his team up for their trip to Hampden Park.
Dominik Livakovic (GK) – Was unlucky to concede against Raheem Sterling on Sunday having done his best to close him down. A quiet afternoon at Wembley on the whole and will be hoping for similar this Friday.
Sime Vrsaljko (RB) – Needs to shore up defensively if his team are to keep a clean sheet, though he is exciting to watch going forward to be fair to the Atletico Madrid man.
Domagoj Vida (CB) – Seems to have been a fixture in the Croatia defence since international football was invented and Friday will no doubt be no different.
Duje Caleta-Car (CB) – Drafted into the backline in the absence of Dejan Lovren last time out and despite the former Liverpool man being fit again he should keep his place after a decent showing.
Josko Gvardiol (LB) – Tasked with filling in at left-back at Wembley and is likely to be asked to do the same against the Czech Republic.
Luka Modric (CM) – Wasn’t his usual majestic self against Gareth Southgate’s side and will need to have a much bigger influence on proceedings if his side are to get the three points.
Mateo Kovacic (CM) – Helped add drive to the midfield in their opener but was caught out defensively and much like his midfield partner Modric he’ll need to improve.
Nikola Vlasic (CM) – Could be handed his first start of the competition on Friday after coming off the bench on Sunday.
Josip Brekalo (RW) – Another who was left out of the starting XI at Wembley and was only afforded 20 minutes in the second half. If Dalic is keen to mix things up then Brekalo is likely to be one of those drafted into the side.
Bruno Petkovic (ST) – Seems to have added more goals to his game in recent seasons and given Ante Rebic’s poor showing against England he could be handed his chance.
Ivan Perisic (LW) – Very possibly the only survivor from the frontline that started at Wembley. Has scored some big goals for his country down the years and they’ll be relying heavily on him at Hampden Park.