Coach Zlatko Dalić (Matija Habljak/PIXSELL) Coach Zlatko Dalić (Matija Habljak/PIXSELL)

European Champions Portugal will host Croatian in Porto on September 5. Three days later, Croatia will play France in at the Stade de France in Paris.

Dalić said the timing was not ideal, with many players being called up straight from their vacations.

“However, we are all in the same boat. It’s important that they are well-rested because the upcoming season is going to be grueling, with EURO at the end, and that’s our primary goal,” Dalić said.

Dalić has contacted 23 players, sending six of them pre-invites. Among the new names on the list are goalkeeper Ivo Grbić and defender Marin Pongračić.

The team is due to meet for training on August 31 in Zagreb after a 10 month break because of the pandemic.

Along with Portugal and France, Croatia's opponent in its Nations League group will be Sweden. The first-place team will qualify for the final tournament, while the last-place team will be relegated to League B.

“Our opponents could not be tougher. Suffice it to say that in three days we’re going to be playing away games against the European and World Champions. We have the utmost respect for Portugal and France, but we also have our own trump cards and we will try to break our negative streaks with these two teams,” Dalić said, adding that the Nations League was important but the priorities were qualification for the World Cup and competing well in EURO 2020.

Dalić’s list of players:

Goalkeepers: Dominik Livaković (Dinamo), Simon Sluga (Luton Town), Ivo Grbić (Lokomotiva)

Defenders: Domagoj Vida (Bešiktaš), Dejan Lovren (Zenit), Šime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen), Borna Barišić (Glasgow Rangers), Duje Ćaleta-Car (Marseille), Dario Melnjak (Rizespor), Marin Pongračić (Wolfsburg)

Midfielders: Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitić (Barcelona), Mateo Kovačić (Chelsea), Marcelo Brozović (Inter), Milan Badelj (Lazio), Mario Pašalić (Atalanta), Nikola Vlašić (CSKA)

Forwards: Ivan Perišić (Bayern), Andrej Kramarić (Hoffenheim), Ante Rebić (Milan), Josip Brekalo (Wolfsburg), Bruno Petković (Dinamo)

Pre-invites: Lovre Kalinić (Aston Villa), Marko Rog (Cagliari), Mile Škorić (Osijek), Ante Budimir (Mallorca), Antonio Mirko Čolak (Rijeka), Filip Uremović (Rubin Kazan)

Source: HINA