Niko Kovac will field his strongest possible side against third place Norway. A win for the the first place team will all but assure them of automatic qualification into the EURO 2016 Group Stages.
Croatia’s old guard of Srna, Mandzukic, Rakitic and Luka Modric, are all set to start alongside younger talents like Kovacic and Pjaca.
Kovacic will have more than a few eyes on him
Since completing his summer move to giants Real Madrid, Mateo Kovacic’s stock has risen considerably- from being the future of Internazionale, to the future of Real Madrid in the space of a few weeks is something that could invite pressure. For his national team, he has more than 20 caps to his name-an impressive feat for a twenty one year old.
In a team comprised of many players in their late twenties, the development of the young former Inter starlet will bode well for head coach Niko Kovac, who is in serious need to inject his squad with quality youth talent.
His last three outings for the Vatreni have been positive, with the 21-year-old netting his first goal, a superb back-heel finish against Gibraltar.
Croatia will look to wrap up the group, sooner rather than later
While a 5-1 victory in the reverse fixture would have Croatia’s hopes up, Croatia and Kovac will take little for granted heading into the game. A victory, would ensure that the table toppers a safe passage into the Group Stages of next summer’s main event in France. The past week of International fixtures have however produced some peculiar results, with Georgia drawing against Scotland and Greece losing to Finland.
A good showing finish in the group stages will help the Croatians to build solid momentum heading into the closing stages of qualification and the Group Stages of EURO 2016.
A win against Norway will also give Kovac the ability to hand debuts to youngsters, in addition to giving them more playing time.