Croatia boss Zlatko Dalic has said his side deserve respect as World Cup runners-up after Canadian John Herdman used an attacking phrase to set his side up for Sunday’s group game.
After Canada lost 1-0 to Belgium in their opener, manager Herdman said: “I said [the players] they belong here and we’re going to Croatia.”
Herdman has since apologized.
“The way to put these words together is not respect,” said Dalic, whose side lost the Russia 2018 final.
“We are finalists, we are worthy of respect…I’m not going to focus and comment on other people’s comments.
“We respect everyone equally, so we expect our opponents to do the same.”
A Croatian tabloid published a full-page photo of a naked shepherd with maple leaves covering his mouth and private parts alongside the headline: “You have the mouth, but do you also have the balls?”
Croatia are tied with Morocco on one point in Group F, where Belgium lead with three points and Canada bottom with none.
Croatian Nikola Vlasic had to withdraw at half-time against Morocco with a calf problem and is considered to be in doubt about his fitness.
If he’s not available then one of Lovro Majer, Mario Pasalic or Mislav Orsic is likely to fill in.
Canada have reported no new injury issues and Atiba Hutchison is set to become the first man to earn 100 caps for the country.
Alphonso Davies and Alistair Johnston are both one booking away from a ban.
THE PREDICTION OF CHRIS SUTTON
Canada is a bit like the United States in that they play football up front and are exciting to watch, but can get caught by teams that are willing to wait for them to explode.
They could, however, have joy here. Croatia aren’t exactly a goalscorer and aren’t the team they were when they reached the final four years ago.
Sutton’s full predictions for the second round of World Cup fixtures
- Croatia’s only loss in their last 17 games was 3-0 at home to Austria in the Nations League in June (W11, D5).
- They have failed to progress beyond the group stage at the previous three World Cups when they failed to win their opening match.
- Canada has lost all four World Cup matches. They are yet to score despite 50 attempts on goal in those games.
- The Canadians could become the second nation not to score in their first five World Cup matches, emulating Bolivia (1930-94.