Zagreb: Croatia coach Ante Cacic on Tuesday named his final 23-man squad for Euro 2016, led by Real Madrid midfielder Luka Modric and Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitic.
Four younger players were cut from the provisional 27-man squad named earlier this month — midfielders Alen Halilovic, 19, of Sporting Gijon and Dinamo Zagreb captain Domagoj Antolic, 25, Zagreb goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic, 21, and Duje Caleta-Car, 19, a defender with Red Bull Salzburg.
Dinamo Zagreb midfielders Ante Coric and Marko Rog “were preferred over Halilovic and Antolic …. to reward them for an excellent season and committment during preparations,” Cacic told reporters. The 62-year-old spoke in the northern Adriatic town of Rovinj where Croatia are training for the tournament which starts in just over a week.
Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren has been overlooked after demanding to be guaranteed a starting place before accepting to go to the finals in France.
Modric and Mateo Kovacic will be the last two players to join the squad on Thursday as they recover from their Champions League success with Real Madrid.
Croatia last week defeated Moldova 1-0 in a friendly and next play San Marino on Saturday before travelling to France.
They begin their Group D campaign against Turkey in Paris on June 12 before facing the Czech Republic in Saint-Etienne five days later and Spain in Bordeaux on June 21.
23-man Croatia squad for Euro 2016
Goalkeepers: Danijel Subasic (Monaco/FRA), Lovre Kalinic (Hajduk Split), Ivan Vargic (Rijeka)
Defenders: Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk/UKR), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow/RUS), Domagoj Vida (Dynamo Kiev/UKR), Ivan Strinic (Napoli/ITA), Gordon Schildenfeld (Dinamo Zagreb), Sime Vrsaljko (Sassuolo/ITA), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen/GER)
Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid/ESP), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona/ESP), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan/ITA), Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid/ESP), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina/ITA), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan/ITA), Marko Rog (Dinamo Zagreb), Ante Coric (Dinamo Zagreb)
Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Juventus/ITA), Nikola Kalinic (Fiorentina/ITA), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim/GER), Marko Pjaca (Dinamo Zagreb), Duje Cop (Malaga/ESP).