World Cup 2018 Preview - Croatia

Thu, Jun 07 2018

Croatia fans will be hoping to celebrate just like these fans did at Euro 2016, when they take to the field in Russia. Credit: Al Robinson

Team: Croatia

Manager: Zlatko Dalic

Group: Group D

Other teams in-group: Argentina, Iceland, Nigeria.

 

THE SQUAD

As always Croatia are taking a talented squad to the 2018 World Cup.

The majority of the 23-man panel is made up by players playing in the top leagues of European football.

Mateo Kovacic and Luka Modric are sure to be important when it comes to the creative side of Croatia’s play this summer. The Madrid duo are fresh off their recent Champions League final win over teammate Dejan Lovren and Liverpool, meaning they should arrive in Russia full of confidence.

Ivan Rakitic is likely to partner Modric in midfield and after a great La Liga winning season with Barcelona he will also be one to watch this summer.

For goals, Croatia are spoiled for choice up top.  They could go with Juventus star Mario Mandzukic who started the majority of games in World Cup qualifying.

However, Dalic could also start AC Milan’s Nikola Kalinic who started both legs of their play-off win over Greece.

The squad in full:

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.

 

HOW THEY GOT HERE

Croatia finished second in Group I, two points behind winners Iceland. Following that, they were drawn against Greece in a play-off.  The Croats beat the Greeks 4-1 in Zagreb before holding on for a 0-0 draw in Piraeus to qualify for Russia.

KEY PLAYERS TO WATCH OUT FOR

Mateo Kovacic (Real Madrid), Luka Modric (Real Madrid) and Nikola Kalinic (AC Milan).

 

WHERE THEY ARE PLAYING AND STAYING (All kick-off times are according to Irish time)

June 16, 20.00, Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Stadium, Croatia V Nigeria.

June 21, 19.00, Nizhny Novgorod Stadium, Nizhny Novgorod, Croatia V Argentina.

June 26, 19.00, Rostov Arena, Rostov-On-Don, Croatia V Iceland.

Base Camp: Zelenogorsk.

THREE INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT THE TEAM

After facing them in qualifying, Croatia will once again meet Iceland in the group stages of the 2018 World Cup.

The only time Croatia have advanced past the group stage of a world cup was in 1998 when they reached the semi-finals before being knocked out by hosts and eventual winners France.

Just 12 players from the Croatia squad that travelled to Brazil in 2014 remain in the squad for the 2018 World Cup.

 

THEIR RECENT FORM

Brazil 2-0 Croatia

Mexico 0-1 Croatia

Peru 2-0 Croatia

First game: June 16, 20.00, Kaliningrad, Kaliningrad Stadium, Croatia V Nigeria.