Defenders: Robert Kovac, Dario Simic, Danijel Pranjic, Dario Knezevic, Josip Simunic, Hrvoje Vejic, Vedran Corluka Midfielders: Nikola Pokrivac, Niko Kranjcar, Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Niko Kovac, Jerko Leko, Darijo Srna, Ognjen Vukojevic Forwards: Ivan Klasnic, Igor Budan, Mladen Petric, Ivica Olic, Nikola Kalinic
We continue our Euro 2008 previews with Croatia. As an Arsenal fan, I was excited to see what Croatia could do this summer, and perhaps even regarded them as a semi darkhorse to go deep into the tournament. After all, they were one of the highest scoring teams in qualification, had humiliated England twice, and had blooming striker Eduardo to lead the line. Then came this. The clumsy tackling of Birmingham's Mark Taylor (enjoy the bus rides to Blackpool asshole!) managed to, at least on paper, KO two teams' chances at trophies. While Arsenal were never able to overcome losing Eduardo, Croatia has a shot. See why after the jump.
The manager pictured is one Slaven Bilic, who outwitted Second Choice Steve both times Croatia beat England, earning himself a pretty serious reputation amongst the Fleet Street hacks. As a result his name is getting some mention when big job vacancies open up. Bilic has Croaita playing an attacking 4-3-3 in the prototypical Dutch mold, and he will surely rely on runs from the midfielders to generate scoring opportunities.
Instead of Eduardo, the focus for Croatia will now be on Luca Modric, an old fashioned creative midfielder in the Riquelme mold. He's the sort of player I might like except that Spurs just bought him for a ridiculous $30 million, so now he's dead to me. Other notables include Nico Kranjcar of Pompey and Corluka of Citeh.
Croatia has a very good chance of finishing second in their group behind Germany. Their competition is Poland, as Austria are shit. And since the USA owns the Poles, I figure Croatia can handle them. But the Croats had better take the hosts seriously, as they have to play them in the opener in Vienna, and you would imagine the Austrians will be slightly pumped up. Although they suck so badly that there was a petition to have them removed from the tournament. In the second round, Croatia could definitely upset the Czechs or the pretty boys from Lisbon.
Goalkeepers: Stipe Pletikosa, Vedran Runje, Mario Galinovic
(1) Could England beat this team? Haha, definitely not. They were embarrassed in qualifying.
(2) Can Croatia win Euro 2008? No. But they can upset someone in the later stages.
(3) What is their pre-made excuse for not winning Euro 2008? Edurado's broken leg. Hey if it worked for Arsenal, it can work for Croatia!
(4) What is the biggest question mark surrounding their team? Who is going to score goals?
(5) Who is their worst player? I have no idea, sorry.
Defenders: Robert Kovac, Dario Simic, Danijel Pranjic, Dario Knezevic, Josip Simunic, Hrvoje Vejic, Vedran Corluka
Midfielders: Nikola Pokrivac, Niko Kranjcar, Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Niko Kovac, Jerko Leko, Darijo Srna, Ognjen Vukojevic
Forwards: Ivan Klasnic, Igor Budan, Mladen Petric, Ivica Olic, Nikola Kalinic