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Croatia hope to make a mark at the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Updated: Nov 23, 2022

After a joyous run to the 2018 World Cup final in Russia, Croatia’s status as a national team remains high with a large number of players plying their trade in the top European leagues. After a poor European Championship in 2020 pressure will be on coach Zlatko Dalic to produce another good tournament performance.

With a large spine of that 2018 squad now departed with Mario Mandukic, Daniel Subasic, Ivan Rakitic and Vedran Corluka all hanging up their national team boots, Dalic is lucky that another crop of youngsters are coming through the ranks hoping to make their mark. With Josko Gvardiol, Borna Sosa, Lovro Majer and Ante Budimir all coming through there is cause to be excited. With the evergreen Luka Modric still bossing the engine room, these youngsters have a master to learn from.

The squad:

The excellent Dominik Livakovic remains unchallenged in goal. Stalwart Dejan Lovren and new boy Gvardiol look like the strongest centre back pairing but Domagoj Vida is a fans favourite and could once again be selected. Scottish League duo Josip Juranovic and Borna Barisic will be hoping to line up at full back to create a very well balanced back four. The new generation of Borna Sosa, Josip Stanisic and Josip Sutalo will hope that they are given a chance this winter as well.

Dalic likes to dominate the midfield and then attack quickly in the final third. The expected midfield trio of Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic and Modric should be able to carry out this task. Brozovic remains an expert ball progresser and ball winner while Kovacic will add a robustness to the midfield that has been lacking since Rakitic departed. Modric is the only world class player in this squad and expect him to show it on the biggest stage with some metronome midfield performances. RB Salzburg hot shot Luka Sucic could be a surprise selection in case any of the mentioned get injured.

Further forward, national team stalwart Ivan Perisic will expect to be number one on the left wing, especially after a strong Euro 2020 performance. However the other two forward positions are largely up for grabs. At striker Dalic may want to play a Mandzukic like player and in Ante Budimir he has a solid choice. Or he may opt for a deeper forward such as Andrej Kramaric or Marko Livaja who is impressing back in the Croatian division. Another player impressing domestically for Dinamo Zagreb is Mislav Orsic who bagged a goal against Chelsea in the Champions League in September and his directness could be a huge asset to this side on the right. Or Dalic could select an inverted winger just like at Euro 2020 with Nikola Vlasic being his man. Don’t rule out Majer or Pasalic though who are having impressive seasons of their own.

The manager.

Arguably the most popular Croatia manager after his 2018 World Cup exploits, there are rumours this could be his last act in charge. A disciplinarian who demands respect and hard work from his players (Just take the omission of Nikola Kalinic from the 2018 World Cup squad after refusing to come on for example) will take each game as it comes. He likes to dominate the midfield then launch quick attacks through his quality wide men, while the defence sits slightly deeper and absorbs incoming pressure. However his tactics are likely to differ depending on who the opponent is.

2022 World Cup.

In a group with Belgium, Canada and Morocco, Croatia are expected to qualify behind the Belgians. This will be no easy task though as Canada will be wanting to make their mark at their second ever World Cup and Morocco have some quality individuals such as Bono and Hakimi. With the 2018 World Cup showing if they do manage to navigate their way out of this tough group then anything can happen. With the pure brilliance of Luka Modric in midfield and a settled starting X1 Croatia fans should be excited for Qatar 2022.

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