Not a single member of the football fraternity is unknown to the potential of this Croatia side managed by Zlatko Dalic. Croatia took everyone by surprise when they knocked out England in the semi-finals of the 2018 FIFA World Cup to book a place in the final of the prestigious competition. Though they ended up on the losing side to a superior France squad, Croatia’s run, filled with enthusiasm and collective efforts would be remembered for a lifetime.
EURO 2020 CROATIA PREVIEW
Croatia boasted of a extremely creative squad three years back when they stepped onto the lush greens of the 2018 FIFA World Cup held in Russia. Players like Ivan Rakitic, Ante Rebic, Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, and Mario Mandzukic combined to be a threat for every side that came as an obstacle on their road to the finals. They were in a group that had Lionel Messi’s Argentina but the underdogs netted 3 past Sampaoli’s men dominating large quarters of the game.
Things have changed a bit now when they are about to enter the Euros as Ivan Rakitic and Mario Mandzukic have hung up their boots. But Ballon D’or winner Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic and Ante Rebic have traveled to make their nation proud again. Last but not the least, Mateo Kovacic has really come of age at Chelsea and is now one of the best ball carriers in world football which would be a big boost for the nation going into the Euros.
CROATIA SQUAD FOR EURO 2020
Goalkeepers: Lovre Kalinic (Hajduk Split), Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Simon Sluga (Luton Town/ENG)
Defenders: Domagoj Vida (Besiktas/TUR), Dejan Lovren (Zenit Saint Petersburg/RUS), Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid/ESP), Borna Barisic (Rangers/SCO), Duje Caleta-Car (Marseille/FRA), Josip Juranovic (Legia Warsaw/POL), Domagoj Bradaric (Lille/FRA), Mile Skoric (Osijek), Josko Gvardiol (Dinamo Zagreb)
Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid/ESP), Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea/ENG), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan/ITA), Milan Badelj (Genoa/ITA), Mario Pasalic (Atalanta/ITA), Nikola Vlasic (CSKA Moscow/RUS), Luka Ivanusec (Dinamo Zagreb)
Forwards: Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan/ITA), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim/GER), Ante Rebic (AC Milan/ITA), Josip Brekalo (Wolfsburg/GER), Bruno Petkovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Mislav Orsic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ante Budimir (Osasuna/ESP)
EURO 2020 KEY PLAYERS FOR CROATIA
This Croatia side is an attack-minded one and have a very experienced midfield. The center of attraction would surely be Luka Modric but with players like Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic, Zlatko Dalic’s men could dominate against any side on a given day. The forward line is also to be considered of great threat with some serious goalscorers in the name of Ante Rebic, Ivan Perisic, and Mislav Orsic, who is best remembered for his second leg hattrick against Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham, that ousted the English club from the Europa League last campaign.
The point of concern for Croatia is their backline and the men guarding the goal as they do not possess the same quality in those areas when compared to their offensive department. here are some of the players who could shine for Croatia this term:
Mateo Kovacic is the one with the legs in the midfield considering the fact that Luka Modric has been aging. Kovacic played a crucial role in Chelsea’s Europe-conquering season last term and could be Dalic’s main man to create opportunities. Kovacic is a good carrier of the ball and his ability to keep possession and escape from pressure situations is what makes him stand out. Often tried in a defensive midfield role at Chelsea, the 27-year-old can also put in some crucial tackles and interceptions when needed.
A Ballon D’or winner who broke the run of the Messi-Ronaldo streak for the award is not to be taken lightly irrespective of his age. Modric would be more of a silent performer this time with Kovacic expected to take more of the work load. Modric is one of the best in the world with the ball in his feet and has a vision that is second to none. He has been of immense importance to a Real Madrid side over the years that have enjoyed so much European success under Zidane. Missing out on the World Cup narrowly would be definitely in Modric’s mind and that could be a reason for him to be more hungry to lift a trophy with his nation.
Other players to look out for include Ante Rebic who scored a left-footed stunner against Argentina last World Cup. Mislav Orsic is the youngster we all need to keep an eye on and his abilities were on display as he single-handedly knocked out a team like Tottenham out of the Europa League. Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic are in the squad too which adds more experience and quality to the side.
Players to keep an eye on: Ante Rebic, Mislav Orsic, Ivan perisic, Marcelo Brozovic.
EURO 2020 CROATIA GROUP STAGE
Croatia has been drawn with the likes of England, Scotland and Czech Republic in Group D. Qualyfying from the group stages should not be a daunting task for Zlatko Dalic as they are expected to register wins over both Scotland and Czech Republic. But it would be wrong to say that this Croatia side does not have the capability to beat England and therefore moving to the next round topping the group is quite a possibility. Croatia’s toughest challenge in the group stages come right at the start of their campaign against England on June 13.
EURO 2020 GROUP STAGE FIXTURES
|Date||Fixture||Timing (In UTC)||Venue|
|June 13||Croatia vs England||13:00||London, England|
|June 18||Croatia vs Czech Republic||16:00||Glasgow, Scotland|
|June 22||Croatia vs Scotland||19:00||Glasgow, Scotland|
CROATIA HISTORY IN EUROS
|Year and Venue||Position||Result|
|1996 England||Quarter-final||Lost 1-2 to Germany|
|2004 Portugal||Group stage||Won 0, Drawn 2, Lost 1|
|2008 Austria & Switzerland||Quarter-final||Lost 1-3 to Turkey in penalties 1–1 (a.e.t.)|
|2012 Poland & Sweden||Group stage||Won 1, Drawn 1, Lost 1|
|2016 France||Round of 16||Lost 0-1 to Portugal after (a.e.t.)|
CROATIA CHANCES IN THE EUROS
Croatia has chances to go far in this competition though are not considered among the favorites. Group Stages would not be a concern for such a talented outfit but Dalic’s main test would be from the knockout stages. Beating England in the group stages could give them the required motivation an momentum to carry forward to the knockouts. There are chances of Croatia causing some upsets as they did last time in the World Cup with their victories over Argentina and England. Having never won the Euros before, getting hands on the trophy would be definitely on their mind, especially after coming so close to a World Cup.
CROATIA PREDICTION FOR THE EUROS
Though Croatia could well emerge as the group winners, England’s fine form mark the Three Lions as the favorites to top the group stage. Finishing second would not do Croatia a lot of harm as the Runners of Group D will face the Runners of Group E which is likely to be one out of Slovakia, Sweden, and Poland. Sweden and Poland have decent teams but Croatia would be strong favorites to proceed to the next round should they face any of these two.
The real test for Dalic’s side would be from the Quarter Finals but on playing their best football we expect them to reach the semi-finals as the dark horse of the elite competition. Semi-finals could be the hurdle they fail to overcome as they are likely to face one of the favorites who could put an end to their Euro 2020 dreams.
Final Predictions: Knocked out in the semi-finals