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Last Updated: Friday, 21 May, 2004, 12:28 GMT 13:28 UK
Croatia miss old guard
EURO HISTORY
Former Croatian internationals Zvonimir Boban and Davor Suker
Best performance:
Quarter-finals in 1996
Recent performances:
1996 QF 2000 Did not qualify
Since the break-up of Yugoslavia, Croatia have reached the European Championship twice in 1996 and 2004 as well as the World Cup in 1998 and 2002.

Miroslav Blazevic's side did well in Euro 96, reaching the quarter-finals, before bowing out to Germany.

The highlight of that campaign was Davor Suker's sublime chip over Peter Schmeichel during the win over Denmark.

Along with Suker, Blazevic's Croatia also included the talents of Robert Jarni, Zvonimir Boban and Alen Boksic.

Croatia's consistent record of qualification for major tournaments is remarkable given the country's population is only five million.

Even so, current coach Otto Baric's squad is not in the same league as Blazevic's, evidenced by their need to qualify via the play-offs after finishing behind Bulgaria in their group.

But one thing remains consistent and that is Croatia's spirit which should never be under-estimated.

Zvica Olic of CSKA Moscow and Monaco's Dado Prso, who scored four goals in a Champions League game against Deportivo La Coruna earlier this season, bring plenty of quality.

Marko Babic of Bayer Leverkusen, Jerko Leko of Dinamo Kiev, Niko Kranjcar of Dinamo Zagreb and Dario Srna of Shakhtar Donetsk in the Ukraine are other notable talents.

However Baric will not be able to call on two players - VfB Stuttgart's Zvonimir Soldo and Liverpool's Igor Biscan.

Soldo declined Baric's offer to return to internationals in April after an excellent season with Stuttgart, while the Croatian coach has vowed Biscan will never play again after the two fell out.

The Liverpool defender walked out after learning he had not even made the bench for the match against Bulgaria in October 2003.





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