Croatia did not qualify for the last World Cup so on this occasion they will need to make up for lost ground and have a successful run. Given the talent in the team including Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic and Mario Manduzkic, they could well provide a performance to savour.
Predicted 23-man Croatia squad
Goalkeepers - Stipe Pletikosa, Danijel Subasic and Dario Kresic
Defenders - Darijo Srna, (Captain) Vedran Corluka, Ivan Strinic, Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida, Gordon Schildenfeld and Josip Simunic.
Midfielders - Niko Kranjcar, Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Ognjen Vukojevic, Daniel Pranjic, Ivan Perisic, Mateo Kovacic and Alen Halilovic
Forwards - Nikola Kalinic, Eduardo, Ivica Olic, Mario Mandzukic and Nikica Jelavic
Key player: Darijo Srna. His ability to dictate the back four, ability to push up the wings and create chances will be crucial in determining how Croatia do. With this potentially his last World Cup he will look to end on a high, his dead-ball skills will be vital too whether this be corners or free-kicks.
Player to watch: Alen Halilovic. If he goes, he potentially could be the star of the World Cup. He has agreed to join Barcelona in the summer and the 17-year-old wonderkid has shown at Dinamo Zagreb why he is sought after. The World Cup would be the perfect opportunity for him to showcase his skills to a global audience and make more aware of his talent.
The manager: Niko Kovac. He took charge in October 2013, after replacing Igor Stimac. He steered them through the playoffs but has to ensure the team are ready in time. With little coaching experience compared to other international coaches, this will be the big test for him. Croatia have a group they are capable of qualifying from. Watch this space.
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