Croatia have not made it to the knockout stage of the World Cup since 1998 and know the importance of their first game against Nigeria on June 16, 2018.
Given the players that they have, the individual talents in their ranks and overall quality, Croatia are without doubt the favourites to qualify for the last sixteen in Group D, along with Argentina.
One of the stars of the Croatian team is Barcelona’s Ivan Rakitić, who is expected to be handed defensive responsibilities in midfield by manager Zlatko Dalic when they face the Super Eagles, while Real Madrid’s Luka Modrić will be deployed as an attacking midfielder.
”The first game is always difficult and important,” Rakitić told the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Magazine show.
”Our first match at the World Cup will be against Nigeria. Obviously we like to get a win and the three points.”
To prepare the Super Eagles for their World Cup opener against Croatia, the Nigerian Federation have arranged friendlies with Poland, Serbia and Czech Republic who play in a similar way like The Blazers.