Photo: Tino Juric/PIXSELL
Starting XI: Pletikosa – Srna, Maloča, Ćorluka, Pranjić – Rakitić, Badelj, Kranjčar – Mandžukić, Olić, Eduardo
It was a rough night in Split for the Vatreni as Igor Štimac’s debut as national coach did not go as planned. The Croatian defense, which featured first-time Hajduk defender Mario Maloča into the senior squad looked more like Swiss cheese than anything Switzerland had put on the field. The Croatians let the Swiss run at them all night long with plenty room to spare. In the 11th minute, goalie Stipe Pletikosa was unable to parry away a low shot from the right side and the following rebound found Xhaka who ripped it into the top of the net for a 1-0 Swiss lead. Eduardo would level the Vatreni nine minutes later as a Srna cross was deflected to Dudu, who in turn chipped it to himself and left-foot volleyed past the Swiss keeper for a beautiful strike.
However, the lead would not last as Barnetta would take in a rebound off the post to put the Swiss up 2-1 going into halftime. Changes were made at halftime by Štimac but it was not enough as Croatia would concede two more goals due to soft defense. Hajduk striker Ante Vukušić did however make his Croatia senior debut and nearly scored a goal when he stole a bad pass from the Swiss in the back and had his shot go off the crossbar. It would have been a great moment for him on his home ground. Eduardo would cut the deficit to 3-2 when Ivan Perišić beat his man on the left side and put a cross into the box which Dudu put into the back of the net. But it was Mario Gavranovic, a Bosnian-Croat born in Switzerland, who would score two second half goals to ensure Swiss victory.
At the end of the day, Štimac got in some new blood, Eduardo showed that he still has some goals left in the tank and the Croatian defense is still suspect. It’s not the way we would have liked to see things happen, but the boys should be ready for World Cup qualifier #1 vs. Macedonia on September 7th. Luka Modrić played only 30 minutes on the night and he is rumored to take a flight to Madrid after the match to finalize paper work with Real.
FULL MATCH HIGHLIGHTS