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Croatia

For a team that shows maximum consistency, 2006 is the third consecutive entry in the World Cup. In 1998 they finished third after beating Holland in the third-place-match play-off. In 2002 World Cup, they again managed a decent performance.

india Updated: May 25, 2006 19:17 IST

FIFA world ranking 24
Coach Zlatko Kranjcar
Group F Brazil, Croatia, Japan, Australia
Previous appearances 2 times
Key player Darijo Srna
Odds 50/1

Croatia is now one of the top European teams simply because of their consistency. This is the third straight World Cup for this new country and it tells a lot about the level they have maintained.

Their run in the qualifiers was also very impressive. Out of the ten matches that they played, they won seven and lost none, which saw them finishing on top of their group.

What more, in a friendly match against Argentina on March 1, they won 3-2, a result that gave Brazil coach Carlos Alberto Perriera a scare.

Croatia will play Brazil, Australia and Japan in Group F. On current form, everybody is expecting them to take the second place behind the World champions.

They had a great World Cup in 1998, reaching the semifinals. They finished third after beating Holland in the third-place-match play-off. They had a modest tournament in 2002.

But in Germany, they are one of the teams capable enough of giving surprises to the giants.

COMPLETE SQUAD

Goalkeepers: Tomislav Butina, Stipe Pletikosa, Joseph Didulica

Defenders: Robert Kovac, Stjepan Tomas, Dario Simic, Mario Tokic, Josip Simunic, Igor Tudor

Midfielders: Jerko Leko, Jurica Vranjes, Antony Seric, Niko Kovac, Marko Babic, Darijo Srna, Ivan Leko, Luka Modric, Niko Kranjcar

Forwards: Ivan Klasnic, Ivan Bosnjak, Bosko Balaban, Ivica Olic, Dado Prso.