Rangers star Borna Barisic was hooked at half-time and criticised by fans as Croatia lost 1-0 to Belgium in an international friendly in Brussels.
Barisic was a standout performer for the Gers across the 2020/21 campaign, racking up a whopping 50 appearances in all competitions, scoring five goals and notching 14 assists, as well as contributing to his side’s outstanding defensive record.
His club displays have helped him to keep his place in the Croatia team and he may well start their first match of Euro 2020 against England at Wembley, after being selected for their final two warm-up matches against Armenia and the Belgians.
He isn’t performing at his best level right now, though, and he was the only Vatreni player to be subbed off at half-time in their 1-0 defeat to the world’s number one ranked side on Sunday night.
Romelu Lukaku had already netted for the star-studded hosts when Barisic was replaced by Joško Gvardiol.
Plenty of supporters aren’t satisfied with what the Gers star is offering right now and some have suggested that 19-year-old Gvardiol – who spent the 2020/21 campaign on loan at former club Dinamo Zagreb following a €16m (£13.8m) transfer to RB Leipzig [Sportske Novosti] – should start ahead of him.
Here’s a selection of reactions from Croatia fans on Twitter:
Dalić is not a master tactician you say ?
He's purposely trying to lose against England by playing Barišić over Gvardiol, playing Petković as a poacher and Rebić on the right so we finish second in the group, dodging either Portugal/France/Germany in the latter stages.
— Karlo (@CroatianScout2) June 6, 2021
Brozo Kova Modric is a good midfield but we need Gvardiol and Juranovic as wing backs to give them more serious options going forward. With Vrsaljko Barisic we can stop watching.
— Diego Niko (@DiegoNiko6) June 6, 2021
Kovacic and Barisic are the real problems
— Allen Strk (@allenstrk) June 6, 2021
Okay this wasn't that bad. Pretty decent game overall. We still lack edge upfront and aren't dangerous enough but let's face it. This was Belgium and we are not on that level to compete with these top nations.
For me, same team vs England but with Joško over Barišić.
— Stabilsomfan (@stabilno) June 6, 2021
Ya, but the speed needs to pick up and style of play needs to change.
The younger guys play fast and the ball doesn’t stop. The problem is, we aren’t playing those guys. Petkovic and Barisic don’t work in that system.
— CroatianSports (@CroatianSoccer) June 6, 2021
I’ve seen enough Gvardiol>Barisic..Dalic don’t be a fool let the boy play
— Ante🥈🥉 (@AnthonyZoric) June 6, 2021
This just shows us how good Gvardiol is. Made a bigger impact than Barišić has all game within 2 minutes.
— Markus Lulić-Descheneaux (@MarkusLulic) June 6, 2021
— ŽELE 🇪🇺 🇺🇦 (@zele88) June 6, 2021
Rangers fans who watch Barisic every week know he’s a top player and his minor late-season injury could be a contributing factor to this dip in form ahead of the Euros.
Bears will be hoping that Zlatko Dalic sticks with the 28-year-old for their Group D opener, though, and that he’ll show the rest of Europe what he’s capable of.