Forward Bruno Petkovic is expected to fill Mario Mandzukic’s big boots at Euro 2020 as Croatia aim to reach the last 16 in the tournament from June 11 to July 11, coach Zlatko Dalic said as he named his squad on Monday. of 26 players.
Mandzukic, who scored extra time in a 2-1 win over England in the 2018 World Cup semi-finals, is one of the many stalwarts who hung up their international shoes after Croatia were beaten by France 4-2 in the final.
There were no surprises in Dalic’s squad, as many of those who have led this World Cup campaign have been named alongside a host of players looking to impress on the big stage.
Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida will likely be Dalic’s first choice center-backs again, while 35-year-old captain Luka Modric will continue to lead the midfield.
“Petkovic has to be to Euro 2020 what Mandzukic was to Russia,” Dalic told the online edition of Sportske Novosti.
“He’s shown he’s capable of leading the line, but he needs to be in top form. Otherwise, Andrej Kramaric and Ante Budimir are the alternatives. “
The gifted Petkovic has scored six goals in 13 appearances for Croatia, but has yet to be tested on the bigger stage after making his debut in March 2019.
The Croats face England, Scotland and the Czech Republic in Euro 2020 Group D and open their campaign against the English at Wembley on June 13.
They face the Czechs at Hampden Park on June 18 where they will also see the horns with Scotland in their final group game four days later.
Dalic played down Croatia’s chances of emulating or surpassing their World Cup success.
“The main objective is to reach the round of 16 and what makes it difficult is the fact that England and Scotland will host their games against us,” he said. .
“England will be our toughest opponent because they are a top quality team and we will play them at Wembley.
“Our will and our energy are the same as before the World Cup, but the atmosphere is different. The bar is too high and expectations are unrealistic now when no one had them before we left for Russia.
“We are still in the top 10 teams in Europe, but there are a lot of teams that have a better chance of winning Euro 2020.”
Defenders: Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Josip Juranovic (Legia Warsaw), Dejan Lovren (Zenit St Petersburg), Duje Caleta-Car (Olympique de Marseille), Borna Barisic (Rangers), Mile Skoric (Osijek ), Josko Gvardiol (Dinamo Zagreb), Domagoj Bradaric (Lille).
Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), Milan Badelj (Genoa), Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea), Nikola Vlasic (CSKA Moscow), Mario Pasalic (Atalanta), Luka Ivanusec (Dinamo Zagreb).
Forwards: Bruno Petkovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Josip Brekalo (Vfl Wolfsburg), Ante Rebic (AC Milan), Mislav Orsic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ante Budimir (Osasuna)
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