Croatia's friendly with Sweden on
Wednesday will be a good rehearsal for their Euro 2012 opener
against Ireland, coach Slaven Bilic said on Tuesday.
"The Swedes are not identical to Ireland but they have many
things in common, namely a vertically aggressive attacking
style," Bilic told a news conference.
"Both teams are very good at set pieces and win most aerial
battles against their opponents, meaning that we will have to
match them every step of the way in terms of endurance,
commitment and discipline.
"If we can do that, our individual quality should make the
difference," said Bilic, who steered Croatia to the Euro 2008
The Croatians, who face Ireland in Poznan on June 10, were
seconds away from reaching the Euro 2008 semi-finals, having led
1-0 before Turkey equalised with the last kick of extra-time and
went on to win the penalty shootout.
They face a much tougher prospect to reach the knockout
stage of the competition this time, with holders Spain and 1968
winners Italy the favourites to progress from Group C to the
The 43-year-old Bilic said the game with Sweden would give
his players a chance to stake their claims for places in the
23-man squad bound for the June 8-July 1 tournament in Poland
"Some media have suggested the team picks itself and that
naming the final squad is a mere formality but I can assure
everyone here that it's not," said Bilic.
"No player in my team can take anything for granted, they
can all either consolidate their positions in the pecking order
or compromise them depending on their performances."
Sweden, who are in Group D alongside Ukraine, England and
France, will have talismanic striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic at their
disposal but coach Erik Hamren suggested they would apply a
cautious approach against a team he rated highly.
"Croatia are on the same level as England and France, I
think they are among the world's elite and we are in trouble if
our back four do not perform to the best of their abilities,"
"Luka Modric is a world-class midfielder, he is their key
player although they also have high-quality physical forwards
who are prolific scorers," he added.
Sweden open their Euro 2012 campaign against Ukraine in Kiev
on June 11, when England meet France in Donetsk.
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