Australia Takes On Croatia in Final World Cup Preparation Match
Saturday morning at 9:30am (AEST) (7pm ET), the Socceroos will face off against European giants Croatia in what will be both teams’ final friendly match in the lead up to the World Cup.
The match will be played at the Itaipava Arena Fonte Nova, with Australia having several injury concerns ahead of their clash against Chile on June 13.
Mark Bresciano was seen as the only risk in his selection within the final 23-man squad due to a niggling injury suffered several months ago. He is expected to miss the friendly against Croatia. Playing in his position of Central Attacking Midfielder (no.10) will be Tommy Oar, due to his experience at FC Utrecht (Netherlands) in this role, despite being deployed primarily by head coach Ange Postecoglou as a left winger in previous appearances.
Tom Rogic and Josh Kennedy had already been cut from the squad due to injury, with starting right-back Ivan Franjic also injured in the ‘Roos friendly against South Africa two weeks ago. Franjic is expected to be fit for the Croatia clash but question marks remain over the decision to exclude specialist right-back Luke Wilkshire from the final squad, due to the cloudy nature of the Franjic injury.
Niko Kovac’s Croatia side recently had a 2-1 win over Mali in their farewell clash in Osijek, where Ivan Perisic netted a brace.
Real Madrid Champions League winner Luka Modric, and Inter youngster Kovacic were used as second-half substitutes, but are expected to play a greater role against the Socceroos.
Croatia, who will face the host nation Brazil in their World Cup opener, will be eager to build some momentum. Expect their star striker Bayern Munich marksman Mario Mandzukic to play a smaller role than usual due to his ban for Croatia’s World Cup opener against Brazil.
Nonetheless, Postecoglou will understand this clash will provide a solid test for his young central defensive pair in Alex Wilkinson and Matt Spiranovic, but will want to prepare a similar 11 to that which will feature in the Socceroos opening group match against Chile on June 13.
Expected starting line-ups:
Pletikosa, Srna, Corluka, Schildenfeld, Vida, Rakitic, Kovacic, Modric, Perisic, Olic, Jelavic.
Ryan, Franjic, Wilkinson, Spiranovic, Davidson, Milligan, Jedinak, Tommy Oar, Mathew Leckie, Ben Halloran, Tim Cahill.