Croatia coach, Zlatko Dalic has announced the team to start the match against the Super Eagles at Kaliningrad on Friday.
According to Croatian website index.hr, Dalic told journalists the exact way the team with Mario Mandzukic set to lead the line for Croatia.
Dalic has restored Captain Luka Modric back to the heart of the midfield alongside Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic ditching anchorman Milan Badelj. Modric was deployed during Croatia’s pre-World Cup friendlies in the attacking midfield role behind the main striker but will be returned to play in the double pivot behind Hoffenheim’s Andrej Kramaric. Kramaric noted after Croatia’s win against Senegal, in which he scored a goal, that the ‘Nigeria encounter in Russia will not be easy’.
Kramaric, who started as the central striker in Croatia’s 2-0 loss to Brazil, will play behind Mario Mandzukic. Mandzukic last scored for the Balkans in their World Cup qualifier against Finland in June 2017. The goal stands as his only goal in his last ten appearances for Croatia.
In the announce team, Dalic replaced former Tottenham defender Vedran Corluka with Domagoj Vida. Vida will pair Liverpool’s Dejan Lovren at centre defence while Ivan Strinic and Sime Vrsaljko fill out the full back slots.
Real Madrid midfielder Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic will miss out on starting berths for the fixture against the Super Eagles.
For the Super Eagles, it is believed coach Gernot Rohr will continue with a 3-5-2 with John Ogu as the third centre-back. The midfield trio of Alex Iwobi, Mikel Obi and John MIkel Obi are likely to start, according to sources that also claim Tyronne Ebuehi could be set for a start ahead of Shehu Abdullahi.
The Super Eagles are scheduled to arrive in Russia on Monday but their opponents on the opening game of Group D, Croatia have already touched down in Russia.
The Super Eagles will play Croatia at Kaliningrad on Friday, 8:00p.m. Argentina and Iceland, the remaining members of the group play against each other the following day by 2:00p.m.