“The first 90 minutes will have an impact on the tournament. It’s very important to win the first match, which would give us a certain advantage, but it would also be important not to lose,” Ireland’s coach Giovanni Trappatoni told uefa.com. Star midfielder Luka Modric reckons that the result against Ireland will set the tone for Croatia’s campaign. “It’s our most important match in the group,” said Modric.
“If we win it, then I believe we will reach the knockout phase.” Modric has just recovered from a bout of flu, but Croatia have been plagued by injury, losing midfielder Ivo Ilicevic, defender Dejan Lovren and veteran striker Ivica Olic, and concerns over defender Vedran Corluka. “I don’t have a headache. I just have plan A, B and C. And I will pick one of those plans. Whichever plan I pick, it will be good,” the straight-talking Bilic said.