Croatian football has always managed to produce phenomenal talent from time to time.
The Croatian team of the nineties, known as the golden generation, managed to send shockwaves across the world by finishing third in the 1998 World Cup - which was subsequently their first appearance in the competition.
The current crop of players are not that bad either.
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In fact, this might be the best team since the golden generation, and they could really make a major impact this time around.
What makes this Croatian squad so good is their strength in depth.
The squad comprises of more or less the same players who featured in the 2014 World Cup. The difference - the players are more established at club level.
The Croatian midfield, arguably one of the best in the world, boasts the likes of well-known names, such as Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic, and Ivan Rakitic, who have now all established themselves at two of the biggest clubs in the world.
There are also the likes of Marcelo Brozovic, Ante Coric, Marko Pjaca, and Ivan Perisic, who was their top scorer in qualifying, who are playing more prominent roles for their respective clubs.
Their attack, spearheaded by the industrious Mario Mandzukic, is by no means bad either.
Their forwards have had good seasons at their respective clubs. Andrej Kramaric, Leicester City’s most expensive signing, ended the season on a high at Hoffenheim, where he scored five league goals from 12 appearances.
Question marks were raised over their defense, especially after Dejan Lovren’s fallout with the management, but Vedran Corluka showed that their defense was up to it when he put in a heroic display in the Group D match against Turkey, where he bled as much as four times from his head.
‘The Vatreni’ were thoroughly convincing against Turkey, who had famously ousted them in the most dramatic fashion during Euro 2008.
Croatia have always been the dark horses in every major tournament that they have participated in, but they have somehow flattered to deceive.
This time, though, they have a really good chance to upset the apple cart. Their players are all at the right age, they have a great leader in Darijo Srna, and they also have a certain Mandzukic, who does the work of two men.
Finishing at the top of the group should be their priority, and would mean an easy path to the quarter-finals, but if they finish second, they could meet Italy in the last 16, which would represent a tough game, but by no means an unattainable task.
Croatia can draw inspiration from Greece’s Euro 2004 triumph, and step out of their predecessors’ shadows once and for all. However, it should no longer be considered a surprise.
How far can Croatia go at Euro 2016? Have YOUR say in the comment section below!