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Croatia Send Star Players Home Early, Won’t Have Full Squad vs. Mexico

In a questionable decision that even rattled Mexico coach Juan Carlos Osorio’s brain, the Croatian national team sent home six of their best players back to their clubs early ahead of their match in Dallas.

Poland v Mexico: International Friendly
The Mexican National Team stand during the playing of the national anthems before their match against Poland on Nov. 13, 2017 in Gdansk.
Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz/Getty Images

In a surprising turn of events coming from the Croatia national team camp, head coach Zlatko Dalić made the decision to send star players Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), Danijel Subasic (AS Monaco) and Nikola Kalinic(AC Milan) back to their clubs early ahead of their friendly against Mexico, it was announced Saturday.

Mexico will now face a weaker Croatia side, as most of the ones dismissed were expected to be in the starting lineup as they all were in the Vatreni’s friendly against Peru on Friday. Croatia lost 2-0 to the Incas in the matchup.

What This Means For El Tri

Unfortunately for Mexico, they will not be facing the best Croatia squad that the World Cup-bound team has to offer. Croatia will lose their long-untouchable starting goalkeeper in Subasic, their two best attackers in Kalinic and Mandzukic and gutted their midfield significantly by losing Brozovic, Perisic and their captain and best player in Luka Modric. Croatia’s “golden generation” squad revolves around their midfielders who specialize in ball possession and can play box-to-box, but will not have that strength up to 100 percent against Mexico. Still on the squad is FC Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic and Real Madrid’s Mateo Kovacic, who will most likely start in the midfield for the Blazers. The Mexican defense will also have to turn their attention to younger strikers Andrej Kramaric and Ante Rebic, who have only nine goals between them.

Eibar v Real Madrid - La Liga
Croatian megastar and captain Luka Modric will not play against Mexico. The Real Madrid midfielder will return to Spain to prepare for Los Blancos’ visit to former Cruz Azul boss Paco Jemez’s Las Palmas on Saturday.
Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

The decision was not understood well by Juan Carlos Osorio, who was upset at the fact that his team won’t be facing the team he expected.

Osorio, understandably, wanted to face the strongest Croatian squad possible to prepare his players for the World Cup. A win is now a little more obtainable for El Tri, but you have to bet they didn't want to be favored this way.

One player who will be face to face with Mexico is defender Vedran Corluka, who had some nice words for his nation’s opponent on Tuesday.

The game is set for kickoff at 9:00 p.m. at the AT&T Stadium and will air live on Univision Deportes Network and UniMas in Spanish and on Fox Sports 1 in English.