Modric and Rakitic in Croatia squad to face Portugal, Spain
Zagreb, Aug 20 (AFP) Luka Modric, awarded the Golden Ball for the best player at the World Cup, and his midfield partner Ivan Rakitic have both been called up to the Croatia squad for matches against Portugal and Spain in September.
In his first squad announcement since Croatia lost 4-2 to France in the World Cup final on July 15, Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic called up 25 players.
Croatia will play Portugal in a friendly at the Estadio do Algarve on Thursday, September 6, before taking on Spain away in Elche on September 11 in their first game in the inaugural UEFA Nations League.
The presence of Real Madrid playmaker Modric, 33, and Barcelona star Rakitic, 30, comes after speculation in Croatia that the duo could retire from the national team following the remarkable run at the World Cup.
Earlier this month, goalkeeper Danijel Subasic, striker Mario Mandzukic and defender Vedran Corluka announced the end of their international careers.
Defender Ivan Strinic, who started in the World Cup final, will also be absent after his new club AC Milan revealed at the weekend he had been diagnosed with a heart condition and would have to take a break from the game.
Croatia will also play England in Group 4 of the Nations League, and are due to entertain Gareth Southgate's side in Rijeka on October 12.
Goalkeepers: Lovre Kalinic (Gent/BEL), Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Karlo Letica (Club Brugge/BEL) Defenders: Domagoj Vida (Besiktas/TUR), Dejan Lovren (Liverpool/ENG), Sime Vrsaljko (Inter/ITA), Josip Pivaric (Dynamo Kiev/UKR), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen/GER), Matej Mitrovic (Club Brugge/BEL), Borna Barisic (Rangers/SCO), Antonio Milic (Anderlecht/BEL) Midfield: Luka Modric (Real Madrid/ESP), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona/ESP), Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea/ENG), Milan Badelj (Lazio/ITA), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter/ITA), Marko Rog (Napoli/ITA), Mario Pasalic (Atalanta/ITA), Filip Bradaric (Cagliari/ITA) Forwards: Ivan Perisic (Inter/ITA), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim/GER), Ante Rebic (Eintracht Frankfurt/GER), Marko Pjaca (Fiorentina/ITA), Ivan Santini (Anderlecht/BEL), Marko Livaja (AEK/GRE)