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Page last updated at 16:15 GMT, Thursday, 15 May 2008 17:15 UK

Croatia team guide

BBC Sport's Euro 2008 guide to Croatia.

Fixtures (Group B):


v Austria - 8 June, 1700 BST, Vienna
Austria team guide

v Germany - 12 June, 1700 BST, Klagenfurt
Germany team guide

v Poland - 16 June, 1945 BST, Klagenfurt
Poland team guide

How did they get there: Won England's qualification group at a canter, beating Steve McClaren's side home and away and winning nine of their 12 games. They finished a commanding five points ahead of second-placed Russia.

Slaven Bilic

Manager: Slaven Bilic. The former West Ham and Everton defender is well-known for being a qualified lawyer, speaking five languages and playing the guitar in a heavy metal group. But after a successful two years in charge of the Croatia Under-21 side, he took over the national team in July 2006 and has made Croatia a force to be reckoned with.

Captain: Nico Kovac. Skipper of the side for four years, the 36-year-old defensive midfielder is the rock around which the Croatian side is built. Uses the ball intelligently and provides a shield for the back four too. Ended a 15-year spell in Germany to join Austrian side Red Bull Salzburg in 2006 so will be on familiar territory.


Euro highlights: Their debut in the tournament came at Euro 96 in England and an impressive start it was too. They beat Turkey and Denmark - helped by a sublime Davor Suker goal - to reach the quarter-finals, where they were dumped out 2-1 by eventual winners Germany.

Euro legend: It can only be Davor Suker. He may have only scored three goals at Euro 96, but that chip against Denmark and Peter Schmeichel will forever live in the memory. The confidence he gained also helped Suker go on and win the Golden Boot with his six goals at the 1998 World Cup.

Luka Modric

Star man: Luka Modric. The prodigiously talented 22-year-old was long linked with a move to the Premier League before signing for Tottenham for 15.8m in April. At Euro 2008, with Nico Kovac holding, he will be given the freedom to express himself and Modric will look to pick apart opposition defences with his cultured right foot.

Strengths: Teamwork. It might be a cliche, but Croatia is only 17 years old and it still means so much to every player to wear the national colours. On the pitch, they have very good players in every position and should not be underestimated.

Weaknesses: The horrific injury that Arsenal striker Eduardo suffered in February has hit Croatia hard in the one position they could not afford it. Borussia Dortmund's Mladen Petric may now shoulder the burden of goals in his absence.

World ranking: 15th.

Our verdict: A very dangerous dark horse for the tournament, Bilic will enjoy pitting his wits against Europe's best and it would be foolish to bet against him conjuring up a surprise. Possible semi-finalists.

see also
Pick your Croatia XI
23 May 08 |  Croatia
Country profile: Croatia
14 Mar 08 |  Country profiles

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