Croatia have made it to the last 16 of the tournament after finishing second in Group F behind surprise package Morocco and in front of tournament flops Belgium and lowly Canada.
As a reward, the Balkans nation will face off against Group E winners Japan, who have already beaten Germany and Spain in this year’s tournament and ultimately helped send the 2014 winners home early.
Borna Barisic – who is the only Rangers representative at this summer’s tournament – is yet to play any part for Croatia but the left-back may be cast into the crunch clash with VfB Stuttgart star Borna Sosa a major doubt.
Croatia may call on Barisic with Borna Sosa a major doubt
Croatian coach Zlatko Dalic confirmed that Sosa will face late fitness tests all the way up to the match and won’t be risked if he isn’t passed fully fit by the nation’s medical team.
“We’ll see the situation at the last training session, if he can’t be at 100 percent, we won’t risk anything or calculate anything,” said Dalic [Croatia Week].
“We need players at full strength, maximally ready. No matter what we decide, we will give our best, we know what our goal is and who we are for whenever they showed trust, they justified it.”
Rangers star Borna Barisic was also left out of the Croatia World Cup squad for the tournament in Russia in 2018, where the country got to the Final, so if the left-back is thrown in against Japan it will be his debut at the tournament.
There’s nothing quite like a baptism of fire at the World Cup stage and the Rangers left-back, 30, may finally get his chance to impress as Croatia aim for a spot in the quarter finals.
Meanwhile, the Rangers connection to one £129m-rated star at this year’s World Cup Finals continues via an Ibrox legend.