【Scouting report】Solid midfield is the backbone of the team that finished as runners-up in the previous World Cup - Croatia National Team
05 December 2022
The Croatia National Team is well-known for its red and white plaid uniforms. The team plays a style of football inherited from the former Yugoslavia, which was known as the “Brazilians of Europe,” with a reputation not only for their technical skills, but also their tenacity and audacity on the pitch. The team topped their group in the European qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™, drawing 0-0 with Morocco and winning 4-1 over Canada in the group stage, before holding off Belgium, who are ranked second in the FIFA rankings, to a scoreless draw to advance to the Round of 16 as the runners-up of Group F.
The nation that declared independence from the former Yugoslavia in 1991 qualified for the global event for the first time at the 1998 FIFA World Cup France™. They were placed in the same group as Japan, who they beat 1-0 in their second match, with the tournament's eventual top scorer, Davor SUKER, scoring the winning goal. With momentum on their side, the team achieved an impressive third-place finish. They also met Japan in the second group stage match of the 2006 FIFA World Cup Germany™ where the two sides drew 0-0 to split the points.
Croatia's most notable success at the FIFA World Cup™ came in the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia™. They defeated powerful teams like Argentina in the group stage and England in the semi-finals to advance to the final for the first time. Although they lost 2-4 to France and missed out on the title, their runners-up finish sent the nation into a frenzy. Luka MODRIC (Real Madrid), who led the team with his heroics, was awarded the adidas Golden Ball, the tournament's most valuable player award.
The team competing in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ still has the same mainstay players who contributed to its runners-up finish in Russia. Together with Modric, midfielders Mateo KOVACIC (Chelsea FC) and Marcelo BROZOVIC (Inter Milan) form the heart of Croatia's midfield. In addition, Ivan PERISIC (Tottenham Hotspur) and Dejan LOVREN (FC Zenit) have also made their presence felt in both offence and defence.
Up front, Andrej KRAMARIC (TSG 1899 Hoffenheim), who scored twice against Canada, and Marko LIVAJA (HNK Hajduk Split), who also scored once, join forces with Perisic. Meanwhile, coach Zlatko DALIC has also shown his willingness to use young players, most notably centre-back Josko GVARDIOL (RB Leipzig). Together with Lovren he has solidified the centre of the defensive line and has become an integral part of the team at the age of 20.
FIFA Ranking: 12th *As of 6 October 2022
FIFA World Cup™ Appearance: 6 times
Best finish at World Cup: Runners-up (2018)
Japan’s Head-to-head Record: 1 win, 1 draw, 1 loss (4 goals, 4 conceded)
FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™
Tournament Dates: Sun. 20 November - Sun. 18 December 2022
1st Match: Wed. 23 November 16:00 [Local Time] vs Germany National Team
2nd Match: Sun. 27 November 13:00 [Local Time] vs Costa Rica National Team
3rd Match: Thu. 1 December 22:00 [Local Time] vs Spain National Team
Round 16: Mon. 5 December 18:00 [Local Time] vs Croatia National Team
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