Croatian players who were left out of the starting lineup in their Euro 2020 Group D matches must accept their place in the pecking order and be willing to serve as role players, according to coach Zlatko Dalic.
Croatia, the 2018 World Cup runners-up, advanced to the knockout rounds of the competition with a 3-1 win against Scotland at Hampden Park on Tuesday, and they will play the Group E runners-up for a quarter-final berth on Monday.
After a 1-0 loss to England and a 1-1 draw with the Czech Republic, Dalic tinkered with his starting eleven and came under intense pressure. He admitted that progressing to the next round was a huge relief. “It will be a lot easier now,” Dalic said at a news conference in Croatia’s Rovinj base camp on the Adriatic coast on Wednesday. “But we must keep our feet on the ground and avoid getting euphoric after one good victory.”
With a terrific performance against the Scots, attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic, who had struck a forlorn figure after coming on as a substitute in the opening two games, got the man-of-the-match award.
Dejan Lovren, who picked up his second yellow card of the tournament against Scotland, will miss the round of 16 matches due to suspension, but Dalic has an able replacement as Duje Caleta-Car, who started against England. “Our confidence has grown now that we’ve accomplished our major goal of progressing beyond the group stage. We’ll take it one game at a time for the time being, but we believe we have the right to dream big “the 54-year-old coach said.