Croatia: World Cup 2014 Team Preview
Best Ever Finish: Third (1998)
Captain: Darijo Srna
Manager: Niko Kovač
Croatia were one of the most disappointing teams during World Cup qualification in terms of the talent they have at their disposal when compared to the results that they were generating.
They eventually finished second in their qualifying group, matching a solid result away at Belgium where they drew 1-1 with an equally disappointing loss at home to Scotland.
Nonetheless Croatia gained a playoff spot where they went on to beat european minnows Iceland 2-0 on aggregate.
The Vatreni are a very well balanced team with several top-class talents within their ranks. The midfield trio of Modric, Rakitic and Kovacic are especially tough to handle and their technical abilities should see plenty of possession in Brazil. Up front Mario Mandzukic is a proven goalscorer and phenomenally hard worker.
They are flexible too and Kovac is not afraid to send this team out in a variety of different systems.
However, despite the obvious quality the Croatians can call upon, they have developed a frustrating inability to get results against what you might call lesser opponents. Because of this, it makes it very hard to predict how they will get on in Brazil.
On paper, this team is a potential dark-horse, but going off current form Croatia will do well to get out of the group stage.
Key Player – Luka Modric
The ex Spurs and current Real Madrid star is the cornerstone upon which the rest of the Croatian team is built around. A skillfull ball player, Modric will look to pose an attacking threat through many outlets.
He plays as an orthodox central midfielder for Croatia and is a genuine world class talent. Vision, touch, composure and incisiveness, Modric has got it all. He is a hugely talented dead ball specialist too, though this isn’t demonstrated at club level due to the presence of Cristiano Ronaldo, Xabi Alonso and Gareth Bale.
Modric has that much sought ability to dictate the pace of the game to how he sees fit, accentuating the strengths of his team mates and allowing them to thrive in the process.