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Croatia walking in Poirot's footsteps

Agatha Christie's detective Hercule Poirot has been at Croatia's Hôtel du Golf Barrière before, and like Ante Čačić he had a mystery to solve. "The girl with the anxious eyes" may not be the answer this time.

Will Domagoj Vida switch from right to left for Croatia?
Will Domagoj Vida switch from right to left for Croatia? ©AFP/Getty Images

The Hôtel du Golf Barrière in Deauville – Croatia's base for UEFA EURO 2016 – may ring a bell for Agatha Christie fans. It was the location for the murder mystery maven's 1923 book The Murder on the Links, in which dogged Belgian detective Hercule Poirot was called on to discover who killed M. Paul Renaud. Spoiler alert: it was "the girl with the anxious eyes".

With the moustache and the glasses, and an analytic, studious demeanour, Ante Čačić and Poirot have a thing or two in common, though the Croatia boss's detection skills are unlikely to be called on during UEFA EURO 2016.

He might be useful if there are any broken electrical items, since he once ran a successful TV repair business in Zagreb. However, he has his own mystery to solve in Deauville.

Exactly how Croatia will go about making the best of their significant playing resources in France is a subject that is being picked over intensely in the national media.

The 62-year-old feels he is close to his revelation, telling reporters on the way out to France that he had pretty much settled on his final line-up for their opening Group D match against Turkey on 12 June. "Almost," he said. "I don't have any doubts anymore."

However, he was not about to give anything away, which leaves two significant question marks for Croatia fans and Fantasy Football coaches alike – in midfield and at left-back.

For the former issue, the most likely answer is that Čačić will use Marcelo Brozović on the right wing with Milan Badelj as a defensive midfielder – a choice which would consign the talented Marko Pjaca to the bench.

Left-back is more of a vexed issue, with three possible answers. The only specialist in the squad, Ivan Strinić took that role in Croatia's last two warm-up games, but Čačić is seriously considering Šime Vrsaljko and even Domagoj Vida – both usually play on the opposite flank – in that position.

He has tested Vida on the left before, and Vrsaljko, after an excellent season at Sassuolo, is versatile enough to make the switch.

However, if there is lingering tension about Čačić's big reveal, there has been little sign of it in training, where the players have been making life interesting in a keepy-uppy game.

"Whoever drops the ball has to pay €100," ordered captain Darijo Srna. Milan Badelj was the first to blunder and ended up dropping it again, before Luka Modrić let the ball slip twice, much to the amusement of Mario Mandžukić.

Vida also ended the session €100 down, though another mystery may now need to be solved. Where will all that money go? "We will spend it together as a team later on," Vida explained cryptically.

The Mystery of the Croatian Fines may be one for Poirot to solve further down the line.