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World Cup: Croatia team profile

Croatia, who fell to France in the World Cup in Russia four years ago, will be look to go one step further in the World Cup in Qatar.

Zlatko Dalic's side came so close to lifting their first ever World Cup trophy, suffering heartbreak after losing 4-2 in the final to France in Moscow.

Heading to Qatar, they will look to better their previous attempt, ultimately attempting to go all the way in the winter, and they can be backed at 50/1 to achieve this feat.

WhatWorld Cup
WhereQatar
When20th November - 18th December 2022
How to watchAll matches will be shown on either the BBC or ITV
OddsBrazil 9/2, England 11/2, France 6/1, Argentina 7/1, Spain 8/1 

Croatia's World Cup record

The Vatreni have featured at five different editions of the World Cup, first debuting at the tournament in France in 1998. Since then, Croatia have appeared in the global event on almost every possible occasion, only missing out in 2010, but they are yet to lift the trophy.

They have had some memorable finishes however, coming close to glory on a couple of occasions.

PositionYear
Runners-up2018
Third place1998
Group stage

2002, 2006, 2014

How did Croatia qualify?

Dalic's men cruised to securing a World Cup slot, booking their ticket to Qatar after topping their qualifying group without any issues.

Over the course of the 10 games that they played, the Vatreni claimed an impressive 23 points, losing only the one game to Slovenia back in March 2021. The most memorable of the games, when Croatia thumped Malta 7-1 at the Ta' Qali stadium.

Going into the final group game, Croatia needed to win against Russia if they hoped to qualify on an automatic basis by topping the group, with the 2018 hosts two points ahead of the Croatians going into the final match.

Croatia dominated the match but couldn't find the net - that is until Fedor Kudryashov put the ball over his own line, giving the hosts the lead in Split in the final 10 minutes.

This narrow victory was enough to see them top the group and earn themselves a well-deserved place in Qatar.

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Who is in Croatia's group?

The Vatreni have been drawn alongside Belgium, Canada and Morocco in Group F.

It is a less than straightforward group, with Belgium being ranked as the number two side in the world, while a revitalised Canada look good on paper and they are looking to impress in their second ever World Cup appearance.

Dalic's side begin their campaign with their curtain-raiser falling on 23rd November, where they will do battle with Morocco, while their group stage action ends on 1st December with a clash against the Red Devils.

Croatia still boasts lots of experience and quality throughout their squad and they can be backed at 4/7 to qualify from their group.

Should they successfully reach the last-16 stage, they will face either the runner-up or winner of group E, which is likely to be either Spain or Germany.

Who is Croatia's manager?

Since 2017, the man in charge of the Vatreni has been 55-year-old Zlatko Dalic. The coach guided his nation to their best finish at the World Cup, finishing as runners-up in the 2018 edition of the tournament.

In his playing career, he enjoyed shy of 250 appearances at various clubs before turning manager in 2004, where he had his first spell in the dugout at Varteks Varazdin.

Who is Croatia's key player?

Modric, his name speaks for itself. The 36-year-old veteran has played at Real Madrid since 2012 and has rightly so earned himself legendary status within the Bernabeu. At Madrid, the midfield maestro has played over 400 times and has contributed to over 100 goals.

His trophy cabinet is stacked with silverware, including five Champions Leagues, four Spanish Cups and four FIFA Club World Cup titles. He also has the smaller matter of a Ballon D'or, having pipped Liverpool's Mohamed Salah to the individual award in 2018.

Modric has played over 150 matches in the national setup and will undoubtedly be Dalic's key man in helping Croatia progress in Qatar.

Who is Croatia's rising star?

Croatia's highly-rated youngster, Josko Gvardiol, is a name for the future for sure.

The 20-year-old defender has made 10 appearances for the national team and has been a huge part of RB Leipzig's defensive success, which saw the German outfit concede the joint-least number of goals in the league alongside winners Bayern Munich.

Standing at just over 6ft tall, with an arsenal of lightning pace and masses of physical presence, Gvardiol has all the right attributes to succeed as one of the world's best.

What is Croatia's predicted line-up and tactics?

Croatia's predicted line-up (4-3-3): Dominik Livakovic; Josko Gvardiol, Duje Caleta-Car, Josip Juranovic, Borna Sosa; Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic, Marcelo Brozovic; Ivan Perisic, Andrej Kramaric, Nikola Vlasic

The Vatreni are accustomed to using the familiar 4-3-3 formation, with patterns of play often building through their talented ballplayers in Modric and Kovacic. They pose a threat in front of goal, with Hoffenheim's deadly number nine Kramaric looking to give the Croatian's the edge over the opposition.

At the back they look assured, with 27-year-old Zagreb keeper Dominik Livakovic experienced and handy when it comes to shot stopping.

How far can Croatia go?

There is a chance the Vatreni could walk away from Qatar with their first World Cup trophy, even if the odds suggest that a repeat of the narrow miss of four years ago is something of a long shot.

Under Dalic's guidance, combined with the talented squad that they have, anything will be possible for the Croatians and it is not out of the question that they could one-up their previous best finish as runners-up.

Although other teams may make more appeal on paper, Croatia could prove to be a handful and the 50/1 on them to win the tournament could be worth a go.

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