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EURO 2020 inside track: Croatia

UEFA.com's Croatia reporter Elvir Islamović sizes up the 2018 FIFA World Cup runners-up.

Meet the teams: Croatia
Meet the teams: Croatia

13/06: England vs Croatia (London)
18/06: Croatia vs Czech Republic (Glasgow)
22/06: Croatia vs Scotland (Glasgow)

Team profile

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

Coach: Zlatko Dalić
Captain: Luka Modrić
Nickname: Vatreni (Blazers/Fiery Ones)
How they qualified: Group E winners (W5 D2 L1 F17 A7)
EURO best: quarter-finalists (1996, 2008)

Where they could play their knockout games

Round of 16: London, Copenhagen, Seville, Glasgow or Budapest
Quarter-final: Saint Petersburg, Munich, Rome or Baku
Semi-final: London
Final: London

Final 26-man squad

Goalkeepers: Dominik Livaković (Dinamo Zagreb), Lovre Kalinić (Hajduk Split), Simon Sluga (Luton)

Defenders: Borna Barišić (Rangers), Domagoj Bradarić (LOSC Lille), Duje Ćaleta-Car (Marseille), Joško Gvardiol (Leipzig), Josip Juranović (Legia Warszawa), Dejan Lovren (Zenit), Mile Škorić (Osijek), Domagoj Vida (Beşiktaş), Šime Vrsaljko (Atlético Madrid)

Midfielders: Mateo Kovačić (Chelsea), Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Marcelo Brozović (Inter Milan), Milan Badelj (Genoa), Nikola Vlašić (CSKA Moskva), Mario Pašalić (Atalanta), Ivan Perišić (Inter Milan), Mislav Oršić (Dinamo Zagreb), Luka Ivanušec (Dinamo Zagreb)

Forwards: Josip Brekalo (Wolfsburg), Ante Budimir (Osasuna), Andrej Kramarić (Hoffenheim), Bruno Petković (Dinamo Zagreb), Ante Rebić (AC Milan)

Modrić reaction after Croatia book EURO spot
Modrić reaction after Croatia book EURO spot

UEFA.com Croatia team reporter: Elvir Islamović

EURO 2004 was my first finals but EURO 2016 was definitely my favourite; the atmosphere was brilliant and I remember taking a photo of the official scoreboard in Bordeaux after Croatia beat Spain. That was magical. I spoke to Ivan Rakitić 15 minutes after Croatia lost to Portugal in extra time in the round of 16; he was in tears and I was trying to comfort him.

How they play

This is not the Croatia of the 2018 FIFA World Cup but they are still a team that fears no one. Coach Zlatko Dalić relies on 'senators' like Modrić, Perišić and Vida, with his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation – with Modrić and Brozović as defensive midfielders – giving Modrić freedom. Expect to see Vlašić or Kramarić as the attacking midfielder, Perišić, Rebić or Brekalo as wingers and Bruno Petković as a lone striker.

Key player: Luka Modrić

The best player in Croatian history, the team leader and footballing magician turns 36 in September, but remains as vital a figure as ever. After a hectic campaign at Real Madrid, he was named as the club’s player of the season: a measure of a player who seems immune to the ravages of time. On his day, still a miracle man.

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

Coach: Zlatko Dalić

Hired in 2017 after a fruitful spell in the Middle East, Dalić reinvigorated the national team and steered them to the 2018 World Cup, exceeding every expectation by leading them all the way to the final in Russia. That secured him a place in Croatian sporting history, and a huge amount of good will from supporters and the media.

One to watch: Andrej Kramarić

Not a major player at the World Cup, even if he was in good form, Kramarić may be more of a presence at EURO 2020 after scoring 20 Bundesliga goals for Hoffenheim this term. The forward scores all sorts of goals and is particularly cute inside the penalty box. He has yet to show his best for Croatia, but this could be his moment.

Can they win it?

Historically, Croatia have had better results at World Cups than at EUROs, yet if they manage to get through the group stage, there may be no stopping them. Thinking sensibly, you would say they cannot win it, but then who thought they would reach the World Cup final last time out?

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