With a place in the last eight assured Croatia coach Slaven Bilic is set to ring the changes for tonight’s final Group B game against Poland.
Bilic confirmed that changes will be made to his line-up but insists his players are fully motivated.
“We can’t wait for the match to start. Our opponents are a great side but we have a strong desire to continue playing well and achieving good results,” said the 39-year-old.
However, Bilic was quick to point out that he would not be putting out a weak team, adding that he has belief in his entire squad.
“This will not be a reserve side,” he added. “We have 23 players in all and there is no first team, second team or reserve team. I have no doubt whatsoever that my team can beat Poland, whatever team I put out. I have total respect for Poland but I also have confidence in my players.”
Billic is set to start Dario Simic and Ivan Klasnic, while five players are a booking away from suspension.
Poland coach Leo Beenhakker is hoping his side can sneak into the quarter-finals “through the back door” although he is aware that their fate is largely out of their own hands.
While Croatia are already through to the quarter-finals as group winners, Beenhakker’s men lie fourth in the section after taking one point from their first two games. Their campaign will be over should Germany beat Austria in Vienna in the other match.
“We have to put our effort into what we have in our hands,” said Beenhakker. “We can’t control events in Vienna. All I can do is plan with my players to try and get the win over Croatia. We are focusing on our task and then we have to hope things elsewhere go our way to qualify through the back door.”
Beenhakker said he was aware that Bilic intended to rest several players, but claimed that it would make little difference to the way the game is contested.
“Croatia have a certain philosophy of playing and that will not change very much, no matter who is playing,” he said. “Positions and styles are more or less fixed, so it’s just a case of different players doing the jobs. I’m confident we have done our homework on every player in the squad of 23.”
Beenhakker is without the injured Jakub Blaszczykowski and Maciej Zurawski, while Ebi Smolarek, Poland’s leading scorer in the qualifiers, may be dropped.