Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic has predicted that their World Cup opener against Nigeria will be the toughest for them.
The Fiery Ones face the three-time African champions on June 16 before ties with other Group D opponents - Iceland and Argentina.
The Super Eagles have enjoyed positive performances since Gernot Rohr took charge in 2016, qualifying them for the global showpiece with ease.
And the 51-year-old gaffer, who applauded the German tactician, expects a tough contest with the west Africans.
“The first match against Nigeria will be the key to our group,” Dalic told Associated Press Television News [APTN], as per Total Croatia News.
“We are playing against an African team. They have a German coach that has changed the style of their game and has introduced a lot of young players in the national team who are young, hungry and ambitious and that’s their advantage. This is going to be the toughest game for us.”
On facing a Lionel Messi-led Argentina, the gaffer said: “For me, the match against Argentina will be the easiest match in the group. We are against the favourites to win the World Cup.
“Any team that has Messi can make a miracle. He is the best player in the world for me. It will be a great match for the two teams that play good football and have great technical skills.
“We have nothing to lose in the fight, and we are playing against one of the best teams in the world. It is a great motive for us.”
On Monday the Super Eagles lock horns with DR Congo at the Adokiye Amiesimake Stadium, Port Harcourt as part of their preparation for the global showpiece.