Soccer-Dalic hints at sweeping changes after England defeat

Soccer Football - Euro 2020 - Croatia Training - Hampden Park, Glasgow, Scotland, Britain - June 17, 2021 Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic during training REUTERS/Lee Smith

GLASGOW (Reuters) - Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic suggested he would make wholesale changes in the starting line-up for Friday's Euro 2020 Group D match against the Czech Republic after suffering a tame 1-0 defeat by England in the opening game.

The Croatians went down at Wembley without creating any chances and Dalic acknowledged they needed to move two gears up against the Czechs, who made a perfect start with a 2-0 win over Scotland at Hampden Park.

"There will be changes as we have to show much more intent and purpose up front if we are to stand any chance of beating the Czechs," Dalic told a news conference on Thursday.

"We need to rediscover our attacking threat. The Czechs are great at breaking out of defence with six or seven players but that will also allow us to counter-attack.

"They are in a comfortable position having won their opening game and we are not, but we always got going when the going got tough in the past and I am optimistic because our fate is still in our own hands."

The Croatians enjoyed a stunning 2018 World Cup campaign and finished as runners-up as they came from behind to beat England 2-1 in the semis before losing the final 4-2 to France.

But the present side seems to lack that kind of guile and bite as they were subdued by England this time and fortunate not to have lost by a bigger margin.

Dalic is likely to throw attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic into the fray to take some of the workload off 35-year-old captain Luka Modric, while striker Bruno Petkovic could get the nod ahead of Andrej Kramaric.

That would see winger Ante Rebic return to either flank after his deployment as a 'false nine' against England backfired, with the pacy Josip Brekalo a possible starter at the expense of defensive midfielder Marcelo Brozovic.

Dalic suggested Croatia would try to pile the pressure on the Czechs from the start in order to take control of the game.

"We need to put them on the back foot with raids down the flanks and more direct passes through the middle, as we lacked all that against England," he said.

"The players also need to make runs into the box in numbers from deeper positions because only a win will do. Otherwise we'll be left hoping that other results go our way and we don't want to be in that situation."

In the group's other match on Friday, England play Scotland at Wembley.

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic; Editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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