Modric and Croatia target Russian repeat
Croatia finished runners-up at Russia 2018
They play Morocco, Canada and Belgium in Group F at Qatar 2022
Luka Modric remains their star performer
A new crop of gifted Croatian players is ready for action and determined to emulate their outstanding performance at the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia, but with a different result this time. Zlatko Dalic's team will be eager to accomplish something spectacular on Arab soil after reaching the final four years ago.
The team's recent successes undoubtedly provide the nation's supporters many causes for hope. In fact, Austria's victory in the UEFA Nations League on the penultimate matchday earned them a spot in the continental championship's final four, where they would play opponents from Italy, Spain, and the Netherlands. For Dalic's team, reaching the semifinals of the competition is a noteworthy accomplishment. The coach is eager to capitalize on this success and utilize the great group of technically skilled players at his disposal.
In light of the fact that not every generation can boast players like Luka Modric, Ivan Perisic, Marcelo Brozovic, Ivan Rakitic, and Dejan Lovren, to name a few, the possibility of fielding a team with such talent unquestionably strengthens the case for a national team that has recently made waves at the top table of international football.
Turning to Qatar, Croatia has been placed in a challenging Group F where Modric and company will face off against highly favored Belgium, who, like the Croatians, are anticipated to do great things. Canada and Morocco, two tenacious teams that will undoubtedly not make life easy for the Balkan squad, will also be facing Dalic's men.
Clevpicks.com will introduce you the Croatia national football team...
Croatia’s Group F fixtures
23 November, 11:00 (local time)
27 November, 17:00 (local time)
1 December, 16:00 (local time)
Dalic’s approach and tactics
Aside from the legendary Modric's unwavering excellence, Dalic's club is known for its 4-3-3 formation, which has produced some outstanding results in previous seasons. The coach's tried-and-true game plan has been a success, and he is certain to stick with a strategy that produces a strong attack-minded style of play where the squad tries to play in the opponent's half. Since taking over as national team coach, the Livno native has presided over 62 matches, recording 31 victories, 14 ties, and 17 losses.
Dominik Livakovic of Dinamo Zagreb appears to be in line to start in goal after holding off competition from Ivo Grbic and Ivica Ivusic. He was able to win this race in part because of the consistent playing time he receives at the club level. In contrast, Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Grbic, who returned to the Wanda Metropolitan this season after spending last season at Lille, is having trouble getting regular playing time, which could ultimately be his undoing.
As for the defense, Lovren is the most seasoned member of the backline and, given his background and recent performances for Zenit, he is likely to be given the responsibility of managing the backline. Dalic has also recently used right-backs Josip Stanisic of Bayern Munich and Leipzig's Josko Gvardiol, one of the future stars of the national team.
Unquestionably, Dalic has the most wealth at his disposal in the middle third. The aforementioned Modric and Brozovic, as well as the incredibly gifted Mateo Kovacic and Mario Pasalic, are all available to the coach. In his quest to lead Croatia to victory in Qatar, Dalic will be attempting to make the most of the enormous experience and skill offered by his midfield players.
Ivan Perisic may be found in the final third. We have chosen to include him among the forwards because he plays an attacking left wing position for the national team. The Tottenham Hotspur star will undoubtedly play a key role in the Balkans' success on Arab soil, but Dalic has plenty of choices in this area as well, with players like Ante Rebic, Andrej Kramaric, Lovro Majer, and Nikola Vlasic all prepared to lead Croatia to victory.
Key man: Luka Modric
We will never get tired of stating that there is one player on the national team who is simply head and shoulders above the rest: the one and only Luka Modric, despite the fact that Croatia are frequently described as a solid unit blessed with immense quality and despite the fact that it has been said countless times in the past.
The pass master's colossal trophy haul with Real Madrid says volumes about his talent, and he further cemented his reputation by winning the adidas Golden Ball at Russia 2018—an honor he was quick to devote to his countrymen: "I'm proud and this is a truly memorable night for me. One of the pinnacle moments of my professional life. To me, receiving praise from others is invaluable, especially when it comes from those who are close to and who love me. This honor also belongs to the Croatian people, who supported us from the very beginning of the World Cup in Russia.
The historical events in Eastern Europe had an impact on Modric's progression through the game at a time when he was just beginning his career. Modric overcame adversity, though, and was able to build the admirable qualities that have helped him become the exceptional player and person he is today, both on and off the field. When the action begins in Qatar, Modric will have the opportunity to continue to demonstrate why he is among the finest players of his time thanks to his natural skill and unwavering work ethic.
One to watch: Josko Gvardiol
The fresh-faced Gvardiol could very well turn out to be one of the standout performers in Qatar. A ball-playing centre-back with excellent technical ability, the youngster adopts a no-nonsense approach in his duels with opposition forwards, qualities that combine to make him a model modern defender. Scores of onlookers rate the Zagreb-born starlet as one of the brightest up-and-coming prospects in world football and he will be raring to grab the opportunity to strut his stuff on the biggest stage.
He joined Leipzig in 2021 after learning the ropes at Dinamo Zagreb, where he made his first-team debut in 2019. The imposing center-back is gaining praise at Leipzig. Gvardiol has cemented his position as a crucial player for the Bundesliga team and is undoubtedly living up to the immense promise he displayed during his early years in his native country. In fact, a number of the game's powerhouses are keeping a close eye on the Balkan goalkeeper and are getting ready to pounce during the upcoming transfer window.
Croatia at the World Cup
Croatia has experienced the most success in tournaments and the World Cup among all the countries that came into existence after Yugoslavia's dissolution.
Two years after their first appearance at a UEFA EURO, the 1998 edition in France gave the Croatians their first taste of the world championship. The Balkan team emerged as the surprise package on French territory and was only eliminated at the semi-final stage by the hosts, who went on to win the title. In the play-off for third place in a competition where Davor Suker led all scorers, Croatia finished an amazing inaugural campaign by winning 2-1 over the Netherlands to capture a bronze medal.
Croatia came close to winning the tournament in Russia 2018, but ultimately had to settle for second place after making history by making it to the championship game, where they were defeated 4-2 by France. In a competition that the Croatians dominated, star player Modric won the adidas Golden Ball.
Since making their debut, Croatia has only missed one edition of the international football tournament—South Africa 2010. After placing third behind Mexico and Italy in Korea/Japan, they were eliminated during the group round. They also lost in the opening round in a group in Germany in 2006, where Brazil and Australia advanced, and they had the same fate in Brazil four years later, where the home team and Mexico advanced.
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