The Vatreni are back in action! Dalić and company are set to face the Latvians Friday at 2:45pm EST in Rijeka. The now 6th highest ranked side in International football has a lot to prove at these next Euros. Yes, three medals in five years is a generational feat that no one can ever take away from us. But, after two successive heartbreaking final defeats, and possibly Luka Modrić’s last international tournament, Croatia has its chance to prove itself in Germany next summer by setting their sights on that shiny gold medal. But first, the Vatreni have to focus on the qualifiers. Should Croatia take six points from these next two games, the first place position is regained and a Euro birth is surely on the horizon.
There’s lots of time between now and next June, and perhaps in that time frame, a new starting striker might emerge (Musa, Beljo, etc) or someone might solidify themselves on that right-wing. But for now, what is our strongest XI to face Latvia?
In my opinion, this is the perfect game to start Musa. He’s hungry for a spot on the National Team and if he performs well in his first start, it will add to his motivation. Also, Latvia “should” be a clean three points, so there isn’t much risk in performing one experiment. However, the rest of the team should be as strong as possible. Any more tweaks could prove a mistake and cause misbalance on the pitch. Anything but a win Friday night is very annoying, and let’s avoid that. Here’s how I would lineup if my name were Zlatko Dalić:
Note: Livaković is a doubt as Labrović is predicted to get the start.
Perišić in attack is the right call in my opinion, as defensive stability is not of the greatest importance against Latvia, and I’d like to give Musa the most support possible. Kramarić is the creative outlet on the right and could be expected to float inside a lot (which could also benefit Musa) and Juranović is more than quick enough to dash up the pitch and cover if needed.
However, I highly doubt Musa will find himself a starter already. I think Dalić gives him that chance once he’s established himself as a starter for Benfica (which he is working towards this season). Instead, here’s how Croatia is predicted to line-up according to SofaScore:
The Latvians have proved difficult opponents so far this campaign, as despite not yet picking up a point, they’ve only lost each game by a goal. Expect a frustrating low-block defence from the Latvians as they’ll be gunning for a draw. Can Croatia break through? I say if Croatia can put two in the net, they will win.
How do you think Croatia should roll out against the Latvians Friday night? What’s your score prediction?