Euro 2016 team-by-team guide: Everything you need to know about Croatia
Kevin Palmer gives us the lowdown on Croatia.
Tournament odds: 33/1
Group D fixtures:
- June 12th vs Turkey in Paris
- June 17th vs Czech Republic in Saint-Etienne
- June 21st vs Spain in Bordeaux
COACH: Ante Cacic
The only coach at Euro 2016 who is a fully trained electrician and has experience of running his own hardware shop, Cacic has enjoyed a colourful coaching career that has taken in 22 different posts, including working with the Libyan national team under the Gaddafi regime. Anyone who takes on that dangerous challenge is worthy of respect!
A shock appointment to replace Niko Kovac mid-way through the Euro 2016 qualifying campaign, he defied his doubters by inspiring some improved results and securing qualification without the need for a play-off.
STAR MAN: Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
A majestic star who has dictate the tempo of the game in the heart of the midfield, this former Tottenham star has proved his worth at the highest level with Real Madrid since the summer of 2012.
A Champions League winner in 2014, Modric is closing in on a century of caps for his country and their hopes of making progress at Euro 2016 will be based around the talents of their talisman and leader.
LOOK OUT FOR: Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona)
Rakitic has been a regular in the Barcelona team over the last couple of seasons and that fact alone confirms he is a player of sumptuous talent.
He offers work rate and ability in equal measure and since Cacic took over as Croatia coach, he appears to have been freed from some of the inhibitions that held him back on the international stage. That bodes well for this summer’s football festival in France.
WILD CARD: Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan)
Croatia’s top scorer in Euro 2016 qualifying with six goals, Perisic is a threat breaking forward from his attacking midfield position.
Offering support to lead striker Mario Mandzukic and Nikola Kalinic, he has a key role to play in the 3-5-2 formation being promoted by coach Cacic and he heads into this summer’s final on the back of a season of steady performances at club level, which have sparked rumours of a move to Chelsea this summer.
VERDICT: There must still be doubts over coach Cacic’s ability to shine at the highest level of the game, with his lack of major tournament experience a flaw in his make-up heading into Euro 2016.
However, Croatia have experienced players who could cause some damage in France and if the quartet of Modric, Rakitic, Perisic and Mandzukic spark at the right times, Croatia could be in the mix for a quarter-final place.