Saturday 21 October 2017

Croatia factfile

THE COUNTRY

LOCATION: South-eastern Europe, bordering the Adriatic Sea.

POPULATION: 4.4m.

HISTORY: Croatia was part of the communist Yugoslavia until declaring independence in 1991 after the death of Marshall Tito. It took four years of fighting against Serbia to win that independence. Croatia is to join the EU next year.

THE TEAM

MANAGER: Slaven Bilic.

The 43-year-old became boss in 2006 and reached the quarters of Euro 2008, where they lost on spot-kicks to Turkey. Failed to qualify for World Cup 2010. He leaves for Lokomotiv Moscow after Euro 2012.

Formation: 4-4-2

Bilic's team are flexible and fluid. Luka Modric plays in a withdrawn role, Nikica Jelavic leads the line.

Danger Man: Luka Modric (Tottenham Hotspur)

Everything revolves around the 26-year-old. Concerns about fatigue after 47 games this season.

Accomplice: Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk)

A right-back turned winger, Srna brings pace to the right flank.

Young Gun: Ivan Perisic (Borussia Dortmund)

The 23-year-old is athletically strong and technically gifted.

Strengths: Ability to keep the ball and options off the bench.

Weakness: An ageing defence that lacks pace.

THE RECORD

How Did They Get Here?

Finished behind Greece in their qualifying group. Beat Turkey 3-0 on aggregate in the play-off.

Major Tournaments Record

Euro 2008: P4, W3, D1, L0 (q/finals)

World Cup 2006: P3, W0, D2, L1 (group stages)

Euro 2004: P3, W0, D2, L1 (group stages)

World Cup 2002: P3, W1, D0, L2 (group stages)

World Cup 1998: P6, W 4, D0, L2 (third place)

Euro 1996: P4, W2, D0, L2 (q/finals)

Overall: P23, W12, D3, L8

Irish Independent

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