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Greece vs Croatia. FIFA World Cup European Qualifying Play-Offs.

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Greece v Croatia preview: Zlatko Dalic's side taking nothing for granted in World Cup play-off

Greece v Croatia
Image: Watch Greece v Croatia live on Sky Sports Football from 7.40pm on Sunday

Croatia will be looking to guard against complacency when they travel to Greece for the second leg of their World Cup play-off on Sunday, live on Sky Sports Football.

A 4-1 first-leg win, in only head coach Zlatko Dalic's second match in charge, has put Croatia in a strong position in the tie.

Dalic stepped in for Ante Cacic after Croatia slipped from first to third in their group and oversaw a 2-0 win over Ukraine which lifted them into the play-offs.

Croatia players celebrate during their 4-1 win over Greece
Image: Croatia's players celebrate their 4-1 win over Greece
"What has changed? The coach," goalkeeper Danijel Subasic said after the first-leg win over Greece. "He talked to us more than his predecessor and brought the best in us. This is the real Croatia and if we repeat this performance in the second leg, we're off to Russia."
Andrej Kramaric, who scored twice against Ukraine and once against Greece, acknowledged the Croatians needed to keep their feet firmly on the ground, despite their healthy advantage.

"We have probably done enough as I doubt they can put four or five past us in the return leg, but it's not over yet and we need to score the away goal to make sure," he said.

Watch highlights from the first leg
Meanwhile, Greece goalkeeper Sokratis Papastathopoulos admitted his side face an uphill battle to qualify.

"Of course Croatia has the upper hand now. They have a 90 per cent chance of going through," he said.

The Ethniki were pushed to the brink of outright elimination from the tournament by their humbling in Zagreb - a result the Greek press have called an "unprecedented disgrace".

Borussia Dortmund centre-back Sokratis told sport1.de: "Croatia have 95 per cent qualified. We did not really appreciate the importance of the game and the goals we conceded were ridiculous It was a difficult night."

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National team boss Michael Skibbe understands the difficult position Greece are now in, but promised to at least guarantee more effort from his players in front of their home fans at the Karaiskakis Stadium.

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"It will be very complicated for us to come back after this game. We are very unhappy," said the German tactician, who took the Greece job two years ago. On Sunday you will see a better team."

Unfortunately for Skibbe and Greece, Dalic still has an ace up his sleeve.

Andrej Kramaric celebrates his goal in Zagreb
Image: Andrej Kramaric celebrates his goal in Zagreb

Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic was not fully fit for the home fixture but will be unleashed against Skibbe's men in Piraeus.

Dalic told hns-cff.hr: "Mandzukic wanted to play, but that was too big a risk, as he would probably have had to be substituted very soon. He'll be ready for the return leg.

"We are aware of the quality of our players and we managed to mix our quality with strength. However, we need to realise that nothing is over yet.

"There will be no euphoria before the return leg, even though Croatia did a wonderful job. We'll start as if the aggregate scoreline were 0-0."

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