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Monday, Oct 14, 2019

FIFA World Cup 2018 team profile: Croatia look to turn potential to glory

Croatia have produced some top quality players in recent years, yet the national team has always struggled to use those talented players in international tournaments. This is something they will look to change at the FIFA World Cup 2018.

football Updated: Jun 08, 2018 23:21 IST
Shayne Dias
Shayne Dias
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Captain Luka Modric will be the key to Croatia’s fortunes at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
Captain Luka Modric will be the key to Croatia’s fortunes at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.(Action Images via Reuters)

Head coach: Zlatko Dalic

FIFA World Cup history: Qualified four times; best – third place (1998)

Qualifying route: UEFA Group I runners-up (W6 D2 L2); Round 2 – Defeated Greece 4-1 (4-1, 0-0) on aggregate

Squad: Goalkeepers - Danijel Subasic, Lovre Kalinic, Dominik Livakovic; Defenders - Vedran Corluka, Domagoj Vida, Ivan Strinic, Dejan Lovren, Sime Vrsaljko, Josip Pivaric, Tin Jedvaj, Duje Caleta-Car; Midfielders - Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mateo Kovacic, Milan Badelj, Marcelo Brozovic, Filip Bradaric; Forwards - Mario Mandzukic, Ivan Perisic, Nikola Kalinic, Andrej Kramaric, Marko Pjaca, Ante Rebic.

Croatia are one of the youngest nations to play at the FIFA World Cup since before 1991, the country didn’t exist under its modern name.

Prior to that, they contested the tournament as part of Yugoslavia, a union of states that include modern-day nations like Serbia, Montenegro, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Kosovo among others.

Their very first appearance in the tournament came in 1998 and also saw them put in their best showing in the tournament, with the nation considered the modern-day successor of Yugoslavia finishing third.

However, that remains the only time they have made it to the knockout round of the tournament. Their three subsequent appearances saw them crash out in the group stages itself.

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They remain a nation that produces quality football players, especially when it comes to their midfield. However, they are yet to find a formula to replicate or outdo their showing in 1998.

The current side is arguably one of the best sides they have taken to the World Cup in recent times with quality all across the length of the field.

That being said, it remains to be seen if coach Zlatko Dalic can inspire the troops to put in a performance that will take them out of what is a very tough Group D.

Three players to watch out for

Luka Modric – Widely considered one of the best midfielders in the world, the diminutive playmaker is coming off a season that saw him win the Champions League with Real Madrid. He will be keen to have a similar impact with the national team, whether through his goals or assists.

Ivan Perisic – This versatile attacker is coming off one of his best seasons for club Inter Milan and has been linked with a move to several top European clubs. He is capable of playing well either as an out-and-out winger or as an attacking midfielder and his penchant for scoring goals will be crucial for Croatia.

Mario Mandzukic – His prolific goal-scoring ability has been on the wane in recent years – aided partially by the fact that he mostly plays out wide for Juventus – but this striker remains as industrious as ever and is still a threat when in front of goal. He can play either through the middle or on the wings and will be keen to make a mark in what might just be his final World Cup.

First Published: Jun 08, 2018 19:35 IST

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