Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić has named his final roster for the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia on Monday. According to the website of the national association HNS, it is as follows:
Goalkeepers: Danijel Subašić (AS Monaco), Lovre Kalinić (KAA Gent), Dominik Livaković (Dinamo Zagreb).
Defenders: Vedran Ćorluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Domagoj Vida (Besktas Istanbul), Ivan Strinić (Sampdoriav Genoa), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Šime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid), Josip Pivarić (Dynamo Kiev), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), Duje Ćaleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg).
Midfielders: Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitić (Barcelona), Mateo Kovačić (Real Madrid), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Marcelo Brozović (Inter Milan), Filip Bradarić (Rijeka).
Forwards: Mario Mandžukić (Juventus Turin), Ivan Perišić (Inter Milan), Nikola Kalinić (A.C. Milan), Andrej Kramarić (TSG Hoffenheim), Marko Pjaca (Schalke 04), Ante Rebić (Eintracht Frankfurt).
Due to some potential injury problems, Dalić had cut his provisional squad to 24 players, instead of 23 leaving the door open for someone to step in, should a player have been unable to go, until Monday’s deadline day that is.
The unlucky last player to be cut last was Matej Mitrović, a Besiktas Istanbul defender, currently on loan at Club Brugge in Belgium.
The fact that it hit Mitrović, rather than Jedvaj who has been injured for most of this past season, or the very young Ćaleta-Car, who has next to no senior international experience is surprising to me.
Yet, it demonstrates the fact that the team’s weakness clearly is its defense. It is not the goalkeeping position, much less the midfield or the front line, where they have some world class options.
Croatia is still defined by its third-place finish at the 1998 World Cup and its lack of success since. Many experts say that this squad is stronger than that of ’98.
Unfortunately, their group stage opponents are stronger too. Croatia faces Nigeria, Argentina and Iceland in Group D this time around.