After seeing Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp question the merits of the Nations League, Dejan Lovren has done likewise after branding the competition “ridiculous”.
In an effort to cut down on the number of meaningless friendlies played outside of major tournament qualification, UEFA has made a new addition to the international calendar .
Nations League fixtures are intended to help guide certain nations towards European Championships, with groups determined by a result-based ranking system.
This is intended to ensure that countries of a similar standing play each other and games have more riding on them in a format which involves promotion and relegation.
The concept is, however, considered to be confusing and has not received universal support, with Croatia international Lovren among those left questioning how competitive the matches really are.
He said ahead of a meeting with England on Friday: “I agree with Klopp, the Nations League is a ridiculous competition.
“There is no sense in playing these games. It’s not a real competition that you have to win.
“You can call these games whatever you want, but the fact is they are friendly games!”
Klopp has previously hit out at the introduction of a competition which has put international managers under more pressure to name strong squads during periods of a domestic campaign in which certain players may require a rest.
He said ahead of the latest break: “Now the players go off and play the Nations League which is the most senseless competition in the world.
“We have to start thinking about the players. You have to call the manager of any country and say can you leave players out and he says I am under pressure as well.”
Croatia and England both find themselves under pressure heading into a meeting in Rijeka.
Both sides have tasted defeat to Spain in their respective Nations League openers, with World Cup finalists Croatia hammered 6-0 back in September .
They will be unable to call upon the backing of a vociferous home support in their meeting with the Three Lions as the game is set to be played behind closed doors – with UEFA having taken action against supports that marked a swastika onto the pitch ahead of a Euro 2016 qualifier against Italy.
Lovren has told The Mirror of that situation: “It will be a strange game without a crowd. We are not used to it — maybe even more England.
“It’s a shame because it’s a beautiful, small stadium and it will be a tough game.
“I know England will search for revenge [following defeat in the World Cup semi-finals]. But it is what it is, it’s not our fault, it’s the fault of some stupid people who did some stupid things on the pitch and I hope it’s the last time it happens. It will be different.
“I think it’s unfair to punish the fans like this because these fans here probably weren’t in the stadium when this happened. But I guess they had to punish us.”