Dalic urges Croatia to stay smart

08 November 2017 12:22:54 EST
Midfielder Milan Badelj misses out due to a thigh injury.

Croatia head coach Zlatko Dalic expects visitors Greece to arrive in Zagreb with a defensive mind-set for the first leg of their World Cup qualifying play-off tie.

2004 European champions Greece made the play-offs by finishing second in Group H behind Belgium, conceding six goals in ten games.

We have to stay calm, concentrated, patient and smart.

Zlatko Dalic

And Dalic, who took charge of Croatia partway through their qualifying campaign, is expecting a tough encounter in the Maksimir Stadium on Thursday evening.

He told reporters: "In Zagreb they will try to defend and keep a clean sheet, with long balls, counter-attacks and set-pieces in attack.

"We have to be careful, their style of play is dangerous and we have to stay calm, concentrated, patient and smart."

Dalic will have to plan without Fiorentina midfielder Milan Badelj, who will miss both legs of the tie due to an injury to his left thigh which he sustained in the Serie A clash with Roma last weekend.

Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic is also a doubt due to a hamstring problem, while Greece are sweating on the fitness of defensive duo Vasilis Torosidis and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.

They will definitely be without Roma central defender Kostas Manolas for the first leg in Zagreb as he serves a one-match suspension.

All three previous meetings of these two sides in Croatia have ended in draws, with the most recent a goalless affair in qualifying for Euro 2012.

Another draw on Thursday evening is available at 10/3, with a 0-0 draw priced at 11/2, while Croatia are 2/7 to qualify for the World Cup finals in Russia next summer.

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