ZAGREB (Reuters) - Several Croatia players being in a position to win European club competitions is evidence of the Balkan nation’s quality ahead of the June 14-July 15 World Cup in Russia, coach Zlatko Dalic said after naming his preliminary 32-man squad on Tuesday.
Real Madrid midfielders Luka Modric and Mateo Kovacic will face Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren in the Champions League final in Kiev on May 26.
Atletico Madrid right back Sime Vrsaljko is in Wednesday’s Europa League showdown against Olympique de Marseille in Lyon and Dalic was delighted to have all of them on board.
“I am overjoyed that other players have won domestic silverware with their clubs while some were also in contention for European glory right until the latter stages,” Dalic was quoted as saying by Croatia’s FA website (www.hns-cff.hr).
“I wish Luka, Mateo, Dejan and Sime enjoyable finals.
“We’ll have a Champions League winner for the sixth year in a row and all this shows we are packed with quality ahead of the World Cup, which in turn gives us a lot of confidence.
“The important thing is that everyone stays fit so that we can have an injury-free build up to a tournament where we expect to live up to the high expectations of our fans.”
The Croatians, who reached the semi-finals in 1998 but have since failed to advance to the knockout rounds, are in Group D alongside Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland.
There were no surprises in Dalic’s squad, with several fringe players and young prospects called up ahead of the final cut due after Croatia’s friendly against Brazil at Anfield on June 3.
The Croatians will play Senegal at home in Osijek on June 8 in their final warm-up.
Goalkeepers: Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Lovre Kalinic (Gent), Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Karlo Letica (Hajduk Split).
Defenders: Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Ivan Strinic (Sampdoria), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool), Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kijev), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), Matej Mitrovic (Bruges), Borna Barisic (Osijek), Zoran Nizic (Hajduk Split), Duje Caleta-Car (Red Bull Salzburg), Borna Sosa (Dinamo Zagreb).
Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), Marko Rog (Napoli), Mario Pasalic (Spartak Moscow), Filip Bradaric (Rijeka).
Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), Nikola Kalinic (AC Milan), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Marko Pjaca (Schalke), Ante Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Duje Cop (Standard Liege), Ivan Santini (Caen).
Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade; Editing by Pritha Sarkar