Croatia names Modric-led preliminary Euro 2024 squad

football20 May 2024 14:35| © AFP
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Luka Modric © Getty Images

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic announced on Monday a preliminary 26-man squad for Euro 2024 to be led by veteran captain Luka Modric in his likely last major tournament before retirement from international football.

The 38-year-old Real Madrid midfielder, who is poised to depart at the end of the season, led Croatia to an historic second-place finish at the 2018 World Cup.

Modric-led Croatia finished third at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar and last year lost to Spain in the Nations League final.

"He (Modric) can hardly wait to play for Croatia and be our leader," Dalic told reporters in Zagreb presenting the squad.

Croatia's most successful coach, who took over in 2017, said he was "aware of great expectations" from the championship in Germany that starts on June 14.

"But there are still many national teams that have a great chance to fight for something at the Euro," Dalic said and estimated Croatia had the toughest group.

Croatia play Spain in their opening Group B match on June 15 before facing Albania and current European champions Italy.

"There is no pressure. I just want us to enjoy football, for Croatia to be good again, and for the fans to be happy and proud", Dalic said.

The 57-year-old reminded of major football successes the country of 3.8 million people has achieved in recent years.

"We raised the bar too high; we won three medals in the past five years... Croatia always showed that they are the best when it's the toughest. We will try not to disappoint".

The players will start to gather on Sunday to train in the northern port of Rijeka where they will play a friendly with North Macedonia on June 3. Five days later they will face Portugal in Lisbon.

Dalic voiced hope that the recovery of injured Tottenham winger Ivan Perisic, who has rejoined First Division side Hajduk Split on loan for the rest of the season, would eventually enable him to join the squad.

"We will not force anything. It's a gain for us that he returns to the national team."

Goalkeepers: Dominik Livakovic (Fenerbahce/TUR), Ivica Ivusic (Pafos/GRE), Nediljko Labrovic (Rijeka)

Defenders: Domagoj Vida (AEK Athens/GRE), Josip Juranovic (Union Berlin/GER), Josko Gvardiol (Manchester City/ENG), Borna Sosa (Ajax/NED), Josip Stanisic (Bayer Leverkusen/GER), Josip Sutalo (Ajax/NED), Martin Erlic (Sassuolo/ITA), Marin Pongracic (Lecce/ITA)

Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid/ESP), Mateo Kovacic (Manchester City/ENG), Marcelo Brozovic (Al Nassr/KSA), Mario Pasalic (Atalanta/ITA), Nikola Vlasic (Torino/ITA), Lovro Majer (Wolsfburg/GER), Luka Ivanusec (Feyenoord/NED), Luka Sucic (RB Salzburg/AUT), Martin Baturina (Dinamo Zagreb)

Forwards: Ivan Perisic (Hajduk Split), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim/GER), Bruno Petkovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Marko Pjaca (Rijeka), Ante Budimir (Osasuna/ESP), Marco Pasalic (Rijeka)

Standby: Borna Barisic (Rangers/SCO), Duje Caleta-Car (Lyon/FRA), Kristijan Jakic (Augsburg/GER), Dominik Kotarski (PAOK/GRE), Toni Fruk (Rijeka), Marin Ljubicic (LASK/AUT), Igor Matanovic (Karlsruhe/GER, Niko Kristian Sigur (Hajduk Split), Petar Sucic (Dinamo Zagreb)