Croatia manager Slaven Bilic is wary of the threat Ireland pose ahead of their Euro 2012 clash on Sunday.
Croatia are in Group C along with defending European Champions Spain and Italy.
Bilic knows that both sides will see Sunday’s fixture as a real chance to get a win under their belts.
“Nothing will be decided after the first game,” Bilic said.
“We can come closer to passing the group stage, or make your chances lesser, but it still leaves the competition open.
“Of course with the greatest respect to the Irish we will seize our chance against them. But I know they will be thinking the same way and want it the other way around.
“They will say their best chance is against Croatia. It is normal on paper, but we have both proven in history that we can beat the big teams as well.”
Bilic received some positive news with Vedran Corluka fit to play.
The Tottenham player had complained of a hamstring injury in a training session on Thursday but doctors have cleared him.
Bilic has built his team around a largely potent attacking force and, while many believe that his defence is somewhat shaky, Corluka offers a consistency that eludes the other stoppers.
“They’ve done a scan this morning, and the scan showed, thank God, nothing, no rupture, so we are expecting him to play on Sunday,” Bilic said.
“It is a relief because Corluka is one of our generals, like a senator, and he’s the leader of the defence and he’s one of the most important players for us.”
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