Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic named a 26-man squad with a blend of new and experienced players for this month’s World Cup in Qatar, pairing the expertise of veterans like Luka Modric and Domagoj Vida with younger talent like Josko Gvardiol.
Croatia finished top of their Nations League group ahead of world champions France and Denmark, and the 2018 runners-up will be riding a wave of momentum heading into the tournament.
Croatia open their World Cup campaign in Qatar against Morocco on Nov. 23 and also face Belgium and Canada in Group F.
“The Nations League gave us the right to have high expectations, we played top matches and we are rightly optimistic,” Dalic said. “However, there are other national teams that have such ambitions, the most important is the first match with Morocco.
“The team from Russia was second in the world, and when you look at where those players played, they were all top clubs. One player was from the Croatian league, and now there are seven or eight of them.
“However, I believe in them. Luck is that young players have older players alongside them to mature… I believe these players can do a lot.”
Goalkeepers: Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ivica Ivusic (NK Osijek), Ivo Grbic (Atletico Madrid)
Defenders: Domagoj Vida (AEK Athens), Dejan Lovren (Zenit St Petersburg), Borna Barisic (Rangers), Josip Juranovic (Celtic), Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig), Borna Sosa (VfB Stuttgart), Josip Stanisic (Bayern Munich), Martin Erlic (Sassuolo), Josip Sutalo (Dinamo Zagreb)
Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), Mario Pasalic (Atalanta), Nikola Vlasic (Torino), Lovro Majer (Stade Rennais), Kristijan Jakic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Luka Sucic (Salzburg)
Forwards: Ivan Perisic (Tottenham Hotspur), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim ), Bruno Petkovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Mislav Orsic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ante Budimir (Osasuna), Marko Livaja (Hajduk Split)