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2022 FIFA World Cup Team Preview: Croatia

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Croatia World Cup Team Preview


FIFA Ranking: 12
Manager: Zlatko Dalic
Federation: UEFA
Group: Belgium, Croatia, Canada, Morocco
Odds to win World Cup+5000, DraftKings Sportsbook
Odds to win Group F+240, Caesars
Odds to advance in Group F-189, Caesars


How did Croatia qualify for the World Cup? 

Croatia mostly slogged through qualifying struggling against Slovenia, Slovakia and Russia but ultimately got a timely own goal from Russia to win their group. 

Who is Croatia’s most important player? 

Luka Modric

Modric is arguably Croatia’s greatest footballer of all time and at age 37 is still Croatia’s most dynamic player. Modric is your traditional general in the midfield, dominating possession and stringing along pass after pass eventually setting up his attackers for scoring chances. Modric is the most recent forms of legendary players Xavi and Pirlo. If Modric is in poor form, Croatia will struggle. Good thing for Croatia is that Modric is rarely in poor form. 

What are Croatia’s strengths, weaknesses, style of play and form? 

Croatia will play a 4-3-3 formation and play a high possession, attacking brand of football.

The Vatreni, as they are called in Croatia, have one of the strongest midfielders in the world. Along with Modric, Croatia will deploy Mateo Kovacic and Marcelo Brozovic, two very strong players who play for European giants Chelsea and Inter. All three of them check all of the boxes; experience, creativity and skill. Croatia will lean on their dominant midfield as they look to repeat their Cinderella run in the 2018 World Cup.

Croatia has a glaring weakness, their goalkeeping, or lack thereof. In 2018, Croatia had a very good keeper in Danijel Subasic, but Subasic retired from international play. It is not yet confirmed who Croatia’s number one will be, but all signs are pointing to Domagoj Livakovic, who plays his club football domestically at Dinamo Zagreb. 

Croatia went 2-0 in their Nations League matches in September beating Denmark and Austria. They will play Saudi Arabia in their World Cup tuneup. 

What is Croatia’s World Cup Outlook? 

Can Croatia do it again? Outside of their goalkeeping, there is a strong argument to be made that this team is better than their 2018 team that lost in the finals to France. Age is certainly an issue for their star players in the midfield, but Croatia’s defense is young and features 20-year-old Josko Gvardiol who is widely considered one of the best young defenders in the world. It is very unlikely that Croatia make a trip to the finals again, but they should get out of this group and make it difficult for whoever they play in the knockout stages.

Best Croatia World Cup Bet 

Morocco vs. Croatia, DRAW (+230, DraftKings Sportsbook)

I expect this opening round match to be fairly conservative. Both teams believe they can (and should) advance and neither will want to open up too much in their first game. 

Croatia World Cup Roster

Goalkeepers: Dominik Livakovic, Ivica Ivusic, Ivo Grbic

Defenders: Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren, Borna Barisic, Josip Juranovic, Josko Gvardiol, Borna Sosa, Josip Stanisic, Martin Erlic, Josip Sutalo

Midfielders: Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic, Marcelo Brozovic, Mario Pasalic, Nikola Vlasic, Lovro Majer, Kristijan Jakic, Luka Sucic

Forwards: Ivan Perisic, Andrej Kramaric, Bruno Petkovic, Mislav Orsic, Ante Budimir, Marko Livaja

Group A   |  Ecuador   Senegal   Netherlands  Qatar

Group B  |  Iran  Wales  USA  England 

Group C  |  Mexico  Saudi Arabia  Poland  Argentina 

Group D  |  Tunisia  Denmark  Australia  France

Group E  |  Japan   Germany   Costa Rica   Spain 

Group F  |  Croatia  Morocco  Canada  Belgium 

Group G  |  Cameroon  Switzerland  Serbia  Brazil

Group H  |  South Korea  Uruguay  Ghana  Portugal

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