The future of the Croatian defense is here, ladies and gentlemen. And another piece of the puzzle will be unveiled this Friday in World Cup qualifying.
21 year-old right-back, Josip Stanišić, is expected to make his Croatian debut on Friday as the Vatreni take on Cyprus at 2:45PM (ET) in World Cup qualifying, Croatia Week reports via Zlatko Dalić press conference. Stanišić has been playing regular ball for reigning German champions, Bayern Munich, this season and has done a fine job in his seven appearances; for a 21 year-old. Stanišić could play a vital part in the Croatian defense during the next decade alongside, Joško Gvardiol, Duje Ćaleta-Car, and Borna Sosa; to name a few familiar faces.
Stanišić was born in Munich, Germany to Croatian parents from Slavonski Brod, the home of Mario Mandžukić. Stanišić has already been capped by the German U19 side twice but recently vowed to play for Croatia moving forward. When he steps onto the field in Cyprus on Friday in a Croatian jersey, that promise will be cashed in. That means Germany has lost two defending prospects to Croatia in the past six months. Ouch.
Look for the young right-back to be active up the flank against a sub-par Cypriot side.
Zlatko Dalić also stated the Joško Gvardiol will start at center-back for the Cyprus match, which shifts him a bit from his usual position at left-back. This season at RB Leipzig, the German side has been implementing a flat-three across the back and Gvardiol has done well at left-back (when healthy), even supplying an assist in victory this past weekend. We can only assume that DCC and Sosa will get the nod as well with Lovren and Juranović not with the team and Domagoj Vida returning from injury. This is the perfect match for new introductions, even though Gvardiol has already been capped by Croatia five times; just at LB.
The Vatreni are tied on points with Russia and are expecting two wins this week from two matches with Cyprus (away) and versus Slovakia in Osijek. Russia should drop points as they play Slovakia and Slovenia this week. Croatia barely skimmed by Cyprus 1-0 back in March through a 40′ Mario Pašalić goal.