Croatia - Team Profile

Croatia’s first shot at World Cup glory has been their most successful thus far

Croatia’s Ivan Rakitic (centre) takes part in a training session in Bad Tatzmannsdorf  near Vienna. Photograph: Antonio Bronic / Reuters

Croatia’s Ivan Rakitic (centre) takes part in a training session in Bad Tatzmannsdorf near Vienna. Photograph: Antonio Bronic / Reuters

Wed, Jun 4, 2014, 08:37

Manager: Niko Kovac

Best finish: Third place (1998)

World Cup record: Played 16, Won 7, Drawn 2, Lost 7

History

Croatia’s first shot at World Cup glory has been their most successful thus far. After the break-up of the former Yugoslavia bequeathed them an exceptionally gifted crop of stars, they wowed crowds at France ‘98 when beating Germany (3-0) and Holland (2-1) on their way to third-place in the competition. In 2002 and 2006, however, they failed to make it out of the group stages and they missed out on South Africa 2010 altogether.

Whiteboard

Ostensibly a 4-2-3-1 is favoured with Ivan Rakitic holding in midfield with Luka Modric, but the former may well join Inter Milan’s Mateo Kovacic in a more advanced role behind lone striker Mario Mandzukic if and when circumstances allow. Captain Dario Srna will be a danger down the right flank from full-back as Kovac’s side press high up the pitch.

All Star - Ivan Rakitic

The temptation here is to say Modric but we’ll opt for Rakitic after he enjoyed a stunning season with Sevilla in La Liga. He offers slightly more going forward than his midfield partner from Real Madrid, whose own progress since leaving Spurs has been remarkable. Rakitic’s creativity, however, could make all the difference in the group stages when goals are at a premium, while his deadball delivery is likely to provide Bayern Munich striker Mandzukic with plenty of ammunition.

County Colours

Offaly - A class act in 1998 but what have they done since? Nothing, that’s what! Pffft!

Pundit’s corner - Giovanni Trapattoni: “You see, I see, in Poznan, no? Modric, Rakitic . . . whoooooosh, where he go? Danger all where, zooom. Mandzukic? Score! I remember this.”

Prospects

First place in the group looks out of reach for everyone bar Brazil, but Croatia have real claims on second, if they can put their game faces on and put a painful, albeit ultimately successful, qualifying campaign behind them. Kovac, appointed ahead of the play-off win over Iceland, appears a less corrosive presence than his predecessor Igor Stimac, whose reign began brightly but went downhill fast and culminated in one point from their last four games as they limped over the line. The second round, against the winner of Group B, looks likely to be too much of an ask.

SQUAD

Goalkeepers: 1 Stipe Pletikosa (Rostov/Rus), 12 Oliver Zelenika (Lokomotiv Moscow/Rus), 23 Danijel Subasic (Monaco/Fra)

Defenders: 2 Sime Vrsaljko (Genoa/Ita), 3 Danijel Pranjic (Panathinaikos/Gre), 5 Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow/Rus), 6 Dejan Lovren (Southampton/Eng), 11 Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk/Ukr), 13 Gordon Schildenfeld (Panathinaikos/Gre), 21 Domagoj Vida (Dinamo Kiev/Ukr).

Midfielders: 4 Ivan Perisic (Wolfsburg), 7 Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla/Esp), 8 Ognjen Vukojevic (Dynamo Kiev/Ukr), 10 Luka Modric (Real Madrid/Esp), 14 Marcelo Brozovic (Dinamo Zagreb), 15 Milan Badelg (Hamburg/Ger), 19 Sammir (Getafe/Esp), 20 Mateo Kovacic (Inter Milan/Ita)

Forwards: 9 Nikica Jelavic (Hull/Eng), 16 Ante Rebic (Fiorentina/Ita), 17 Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich/Ger), 18 Ivica Olic (Wolfsburg/Ger), 22 Eduardo da Silva (Shakhtar Donetsk/Ukr).

STARTING LINE-UPS

CROATIA (v Brazil): 1 Stipe Pletikosa; 11 Darijo Srna, 5 Vedran Corluka, 6 Dejan Lovren, 2 Sime Vrsaljko; 10 Luka Modric, 7 Ivan Rakitic; 4 Ivan Perisic, 20 Mateo Kovacic (14 Marcelo Brozovic, 14 mins), 18 Ivica Olic; 9 Nikica Jelavic (16 Ante Rebic, 78 mins).

CROATIA (v Cameroon): 1 Stipe Pletikosa; 11 Darijo Srna, 5 Vedran Corluka, 6 Dejan Lovren, 3 Danijel Pranjic; 10 Luka Modric, 7 Ivan Rakitic; 4 Ivan Perisic (16 Ante Rebic, 78 mins), 19 Sammir (20 Mateo Kovacic, 72 mins), 18 Ivica Olic (22 Eduardo da Silva, 69 mins, yc); 17 Mario Mandzukic.

CROATIA (v Mexico): 1 Stipe Pletikosa; 11 Darijo Srna, 5 Vedran Corluka, 6 Dejan Lovren, 2 Sime Vrsaljko (20 Mateo Kovacic, 58 mins); 7 Ivan Rakitic (yc), 10 Luka Modric, 3 Danijel Pranjic (9 Nikica Jelavic, 74 mins); 4 Ivan Perisic, 17 Mario Mandzukic, 18 Ivica Olic (16 Ante Rebic, 69 mins).

 

Sign In

Forgot Password?

Sign Up

The name that will appear beside your comments.

Have an account? Sign In

Forgot Password?

Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In or Sign Up

Thank you

You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.

Hello, .

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

Thank you for registering. Please check your email to verify your account.

We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.