A generation of talented Croatian players are primed for battle and intent on matching their superb showing at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™, albeit with a different outcome this time around. After making it all the way through to final four years ago, Zlatko Dalic’s side will be keen to achieve something special on Arab soil.
The team’s recent results certainly give the nation’s fans plenty of reason for optimism. Indeed, the UEFA Nations League win over Austria on the final matchday secured a spot in the final four of the continental competition, where they will face off against Italy, Spain and the Netherlands. Making the semi-finals of the tournament represents a significant achievement for Dalic’s troops and the coach is keen to seize the moment and take full advantage of the talented crop of technically gifted players available to him.
After all, it is not every generation that brings together the likes of Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic, Ivan Rakitic and Dejan Lovren, to name but a few, and the prospect of fielding a side boasting such talent clearly strengthens the case of a national team that has made waves at the top table of international football in recent times.
To turn our focus to Qatar, Croatia have been drawn in a difficult Group F, where Modric and company will pit their wits against highly fancied Belgium, of whom, much like the Croatians, big things are expected. Dalic’s charges will also come up against Canada and Morocco, two tough sides who will certainly not make life easy for the Balkan outfit.
Players to watch
Although Croatia are often referred to as a solid unit blessed with immense quality, and despite the fact that it has been stated on countless occasions in the past, we will never tire of insisting that there is one member of the national team who is simply head and shoulders above the rest: the one and only Luka Modric.
The pass master’s massively impressive trophy haul with Real Madrid speaks volumes of his quality, while he further enhanced his status by landing the adidas Golden Ball at Russia 2018 – an award he was quick to dedicate to his compatriots: “I’m proud and this is a really special night for me. It’s one of the greatest moments of my career. Earning recognition from others is priceless to me, particularly when it comes from those closest to me and who love me. This award also belongs to the people of Croatia, who got behind us right from the very start of the World Cup in Russia.”
Modric’s pathway in the game is rather unique and was influenced by the historic events in Eastern Europe when he was taking his first steps in the sport. However, adversity brought the best out of Modric and forged the admirable values that have made him into the outstanding player and person he is, both on and off the field. Modric’s natural talent and tireless work ethic have allowed him to become one of the greatest players of his generation and he is now challenged with proving that once again when the action gets under way in Qatar.
If there is one thing you are guaranteed from Dalic’s team, besides the consistent excellence of the majestic Modric, it is the 4-3-3 formation that has brought such fine results in recent years. The coach’s trusted blueprint has worked a treat and he is sure to retain faith in a system that results in a very attack-minded style of play in which the team look to play in the opposition’s half. Since his appointment as national-team coach, the Livno-born tactician has overseen 62 games in a tenure that has yielded 31 wins, 14 draws and 17 defeats.