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UEFA EURO 2020 contenders in focus: Croatia

Croatia are the latest focus in our series looking at the history and pedigree of all 24 UEFA EURO 2020 contenders.

Luka Modrić could be preparing for his last EURO with Croatia
Luka Modrić could be preparing for his last EURO with Croatia

EURO pedigree

Previous final tournaments: 5
EURO best: quarter-finals (1996, 2008)

Since making their debut at EURO '96, Croatia have missed only one final tournament (2000) and have made it through the group stage three times, reaching the last eight in 1996 and 2008. Big achievements for a relatively small nation, but Croatian fans feel they might have achieved even more, their shoot-out loss to Turkey at EURO 2008 a psychological wound that has yet to heal.

Key players

Luka Modrić (133 caps, 16 goals)
Croatia's captain, leader and perhaps their greatest player yet, Modrić could be preparing for his last EURO. The 35-year-old midfield genius made his international debut in March 2006, and inspired his side to the 2018 FIFA World Cup final in Russia.

Watch brilliant Modrić volley at EURO 2016
Watch brilliant Modrić volley at EURO 2016

Ivan Perišić (96 caps, 26 goals)
Croatia's top scorer in qualifying for EURO 2016 with six goals, Perišić then got two more at the finals, as well as key goals at the 2018 World Cup. Always focused, the Inter Milan forward's experience, class and work-rate could be crucial again this summer.

Memorable EURO goals

• Davor Šuker's chip over Denmark's Peter Schmeichel at EURO '96 is probably Croatia's most famous goal, and one of the best in EURO history.

Highlights: Šuker’s chip at EURO ‘96
Highlights: Šuker’s chip at EURO ‘96

• Goran Vlaović scored Croatia's first finals goal, against Turkey in their opening game at EURO '96. Receiving the ball on the halfway line in the 86th minute, he took it all the way to the penalty area then rounded Rüştü Reçber to win the game.

• Croatia met Turkey in the EURO 2016 opener, with the same outcome, Modrić's first-time finish in the 41st minute settling it. His exuberant celebration was almost as good as his shot.

Memorable moments

• Croatia lost to Germany in the quarter-finals of EURO '96 but exacted revenge in the EURO 2008 group stage, Ivica Olić and Darijo Srna on target in a famous 2-1 success in Klagenfurt.

• Perišić's 87th-minute finish secured a dramatic 2-1 victory against holders Spain in Croatia's final EURO 2016 group game. Pride, however, came before a fall; they were eliminated by eventual winners Portugal after extra time in the round of 16.

Watch dramatic 2016 Perišić winner against Spain
Watch dramatic 2016 Perišić winner against Spain

• The EURO 2008 quarter-finals ended up being Croatia's lowest point; Ivan Klasnić put them ahead against Turkey after 119 minutes in Vienna, but they conceded an equaliser seconds before the final whistle, then lost out on penalties.

Stats

Most final tournament appearances
12: Darijo Srna
11: Vedran Ćorluka
10: Ivan Rakitić

Most final tournament goals
3: Mario Mandžukić, Davor Šuker
2: Ivan Klasnić, Luka Modrić, Ivan Perišić

Killer stat: Croatia have made it through the group stage at three EUROs, but fell at the next hurdle all three times: once in regular time, once after extra time and once on penalties.

Every goal on Croatia's road to EURO 2020
Every goal on Croatia's road to EURO 2020

Did you know?

• Croatia have only once come from behind to win a EURO game; they trailed to Álvaro Morata's goal against Spain at EURO 2016 with Nikola Kalinić and Ivan Perišić scoring to earn them the three points.

• Half of Croatia's four headed EURO goals were scored by the same player in the same game, Mario Mandžukić striking twice in a 3-1 triumph against the Republic of Ireland at EURO 2012

• Luka Modrić needed only four minutes to score in his first EURO appearance, from the penalty spot against hosts Austria at EURO 2008. It took him eight years to score his second (and most recent) – again in their opening match, against Turkey at EURO 2016.

UEFA.tv: Great Croatia EURO goals

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