NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (Reuters) - Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic brought back his big-name players for Sunday’s last 16 clash against Denmark, restoring striker Mario Mandzukic, midfielder Ivan Rakitic and defender Dejan Lovren who were rested for their final Group D game.
Croatia’s captain and veteran playmaker Luka Modric played in that game, however, and was leading the team again on Sunday. He has scored two goals in Croatia’s charge to the last 16 with three wins out of three.
Danish coach Age Hareide, criticized for a defensive approach in the 0-0 draw with France that guaranteed their passage to the next round, gave a first outing of the tournament to defender Jonas Knudsen.
The Danes have not lost in their last 18 FIFA sanctioned matches and will be looking to their playmaker, Christian Eriksen, to open up Croatia, who have conceded just one goal so far in Russia.
Striker Yussuf Poulsen returned for Denmark after suspension.
Reporting by Andrew Cawthorne; Editing by Christian Radnedge