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Last Updated: Monday, 22 May 2006, 16:32 GMT 17:32 UK
Croatia team guide

A one-stop guide to all you need to know about Croatia ahead of the 2006 World Cup.

Fixtures (Group F):

  • v Brazil - 13 June, 2000 BST, Berlin
  • v Japan - 18 June, 1400 BST, Nuremberg
  • v Australia - 22 June, 2000 BST, Stuttgart

    How did they get to Germany: Job well done. Croatia beat Sweden twice on their way to finishing top of Group Eight.

    Qualifying star: Dario Srna developed a knack of scoring crucial goals. The Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder scored in the two 1-0 wins over Sweden in the group's defining games.

    Manager: Zlatko Kranjcar. Took over from Otto Baric after Croatia failed to qualify from their group at Euro 2004. Very popular figure in Croatia having made 556 league appearances for Dinamo Zagreb, scoring 98 goals.

    Niko Kovac in action for Croatia
    Captain: Nico Kovac. The 34-year-old Hertha Berlin defender is vastly experienced. His brother Robert, who plays for Juventus, is also an accomplished defender.

    World Cup pedigree: Short and sweet. The surprise package in 1998, when they finished third, but failed to qualify from their group four years later.

    World Cup high: Without question 1998. A team full of technically gifted players defeated the likes of Romania and Germany before falling to eventual winners France at the semi-final stage.

    World Cup low: Losing 1-0 to Ecuador at the 2002 World Cup in their final group game. Coach Mirko Jozic blamed the pressure on his players for their failure. Jozic promptly resigned after his team's exit.

    World Cup legend: Hard to see beyond Davor Suker. He won the Golden Boot at the 1998 World Cup in France.

    Croatia striker Dado Prso
    Present star man: Dado Prso. The Rangers striker has been the most consistent and influential Croatian forward over recent years and they will need him to hit form in Germany.

    Strengths: The Croatian team believe they have one of the best defences in the world. Their World Cup qualification campaign was based on clean sheets - they kept six in 10 games.

    Weaknesses: Just as well that Croatia keep it tight at the back. Their two key victories over Sweden were both 1-0 wins, while a 0-0 draw in Hungary guaranteed their passage to Germany. If they were to concede early in the finals it could spell big trouble.

    Did you know? Current coach Zlatko Kranjcar will be familiar to Everton fans with long memories. He lined up against them for Rapid Vienna in the 1985 European Cup Winners' Cup final in Rotterdam.

    World ranking: 23

    Odds: 66/1

    Local view: "A good result for Croatia would be to qualify from the group stage." Antun Samovojska, Editor Sportske Novosti.

    Our verdict: Unlikely to repeat their exploits of 1998, but a place in the knockout stages is within their grasp.

    Ranking and odds correct at 22 May. Odds supplied by William Hill.



  • 2006 WORLD CUP TEAM GUIDES
     

    SEE ALSO
    Pick your Croatia XI
    22 May 06 |  Squad selectors
    Country profile: Croatia
    02 Nov 05 |  Country profiles


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