FIFA World Cup Special : Team talk – Croatia’s golden generation look to do justice to their name

Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic will be key players for Croatia.

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We continue our “Team Talks” for Group D of the FIFA World Cup 2018, with forever dark horses Croatia.

Team : CROATIA

Coach: Zlatko Dalić
Captain: Luka Modric
Nickname(s): Vatreni
Last Qualified in: 2014
Result in 2014: Eliminated in the Group Stage (19th Overall)
Qualified as: UEFA Second Round Winners (12 November 2017)
Previous World Cup Appearances: (4 Times) 1998, 2002, 2006, 2014.
Best World Cup Finals Result: 3rd Place in 1998.

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Final Squad:

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

Key Players:

1) Vedran Corluka: 

The veteran Croatian defender has been an indispensable part of the Croatian team for over a decade now. The 32-year old will be earning his 100th cap for the national team when Croatia take on Nigeria in their opening match. The Moscow based stopper will be vital for the very talented Croatia side.

2) Dejan Lovren: 

The Liverpool FC defender have often been the subject to major criticism for his schoolboy errors. However, the 28-year old has transformed majorly under Jurgen Klopp this season and was brilliant in the UEFA Champions League final against Real Madrid. The former Southampton man will be raring to prove himself on the biggest stage of all in Russia.

3) Ivan Rakitic:

The Barcelona CF midfielder is another of the long list of footballers who are part of this second golden generation of Croatian Football. The 30-year old is 8th in the list of all time top capped players with 92 and will be a sure shot part of the Croatian midfield.

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4) Luka Modric: 

The Real Madrid man is the most capped Croatian in the current squad with 116 appearances to his name. The Croatian skipper will lead the talented Croatian side, as he looks to recreate his club form that enabled the Spanish Giants to lift their third consecutive UEFA Champions League title.

5) Ivan Perisic:

The Inter forward/winger is one of the most deadly players in the world and his club form in last few years just validate the claims. The 29-year old is Croatia’s 6th highest goalscorer in history with 18 goals to his name. A truly “two footed player”, he has the ability to destroy any defense in the world single-handledly on his day(just ask the Spanish defenders from UEFA Euro 2016)

6) Mario Madzukic:

The Juventus forward is Croatia’s second top scorer in history with 30 goals. The former Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid forward will have to be in top form for his country in the next month and so, for Croatia to leave a deep rooted impression.

Recent Form:

The Bad Blue Boys of Soccer have not been in best form of late. In their last 11 matches they have won 5, drawn 2 and lost 4. Their last win came against Senegal.

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Group matches:

Croatia have been drawn in Group D alongside Iceland, Argentina and Nigeria. They will play Nigeria in their opening match on 16th of June, followed by Argentina and Iceland on 21st and 26th June respectively.

Prediction:

Ever since they first qualified for the 1998 World Cup, Croatia have been the Dark Horses in every finals appearance. Despite being in the group of death, Croatia will be confident of at least reaching the round of 16 and if possible even further.

Trivia:

Barring the first 2 world cups, when almost all the teams were practically new to the world cup setup, Croatia hold the joint record of the best ever World Cup finish as a debuting nation alongside Portugal. Croatia finished 3rd in 1998 while Portugal did the same in 1966.
Croatia’s hero from 1998, Davor Suker also holds the joint record of winning top scorer in a World Cup in their nation’s debut appearance. Eusebio holds the same with Portugal.

How far do you think Croatia will progress this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Photo by Free Grunge Textures – www.freestock.ca

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