Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: 'We Need to Be English Today' McClaren Wants Pride and Passion in Zagreb

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Football: 'We Need to Be English Today' McClaren Wants Pride and Passion in Zagreb

Article excerpt

Byline: By Matt Barlow

STEVE McClaren has ordered his players to stand up and fight like men and match Croatia's fierce patriotism.

McClaren expects to face hostile fans and an excellent team in Zagreb's Maksimir Stadium tonight and has responded by picking as many experienced players as he can.

This looks likely to mean a new formation because the England boss is without a trio of senior midfielders.

He looks ready to line-up with three central defenders plus Ashley Cole and Gary Neville as wing-backs.

Frank Lampard will win his 50th cap in midfield, alongside Michael Carrick and Newcastle captain Scott Parker, who will McClaren wants pride and passion in Zagreb make his first start for the national team. McClaren said: "We come into an atmosphere and a ground where they've not been beaten for 12 years.

"We need character. We need pride. We need passion and attitude and we need a team of men out there. We're looking for an English performance.

"We've got the experience to handle the occasion. The reflection of the team will be around those ingredients.

"Croatia are a very proud and patriotic nation, but so are we. Absolutely.

"John Terry epitomises that for us and that's what we'll be looking for, but everybody has to seize responsibility.

"It's an away game. We can't carry anybody. We have to make sure everybody performs and we're looking at the leaders, the men, the experienced people out there, who can handle these situations and come out on top."

The Maksimir Stadium holds a special place in the hearts of many Croatians, who believe their war with Serbia started here in 1990 at a Yugoslavian league match between Dinamo Zagreb and Red Star Belgrade.

Dinamo fans fought on the pitch with Yugoslav state police after Red Star fans had started a riot inside the stadium.

There is a monument outside the stadium which pays tribute to those supporters and remembers Croatians lost in the war, which broke out the following year.

Croatia have never lost a competitive game at the Maksimir and are confident of extending that proud record against England.

McClaren (pictured left) said: "They're a good team. …

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