Croatia at Euro 2020: What are their chances?
Croatia at Euro 2020: What are their chances?

At Euro 2016, despite beating Spain to top their group, they fell to Portugal after extra-time. After that they were brilliant at the 2018 World Cup, reaching the final, and will want to carry that energy into 2020.

Whilst Croatia qualified directly for Euro 2020 after winning Group E, their form leading up to this summer’s tournament has not been great to say the least. Zlatko Dalić’s side could only manage one victory in six matches in the most recent UEFA Nations League, and have looked very average in the recent 2022 World Cup qualifiers, losing to Slovenia and struggling to stamp their authority over minors Cyprus and Malta.

Croatia’s best Euro performance

Croatia has twice reached the quarter-finals of the Euros. In 1996, Germany beat Croatia 2-1 at Old Trafford in the quarter-finals, and then 12 years later, at Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland, Croatia famously were knocked out on penalties by Turkey.

Can Croatia do what they have done at the World Cup, twice, and reach the semi-finals of the Euros? Like always, it will come down to a number of factors.

Croatia’s Euro 2020 Schedule Fixtures

Croatia are in Group D with England, Scotland and the Czech Republic.

13 June — England v Croatia — 3 pm Wembley Stadium

18 June — Croatia v Czech Republic — 6 pm Hampden Park

22 June — Croatia v Scotland — 9 pm Hampden Park

Croatia Euro 2020 - the full 26-man Euro 2020 squad

Goalkeepers: Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Lovre Kalinic (Hajduk Split), Simon Sluga (Luton)

Defenders: Sime Vrsaljko (Atletico de Madrid), Borna Barisic (Rangers), Duje Caleta-Car (Marseille), Dejan Lovren (Zenit), Josip Juranovic (Legia Warszawa), Domagoj Vida (Besiktas), Josko Gvardiol (Leipzig), Domagoj Bradaric (LOSC Lille), Mile Skoric (Osijek)

Midfielders: Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea), Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), Milan Badelj (Genoa), Nikola Vlasic (CSKA Moskva), Mario Pasalic (Atalanta), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), Josip Brekalo (Wolfsburg), Mislav Orsic (Dinamo Zagreb), Luka Ivanusec (Dinamo Zagreb)

Forwards: Ante Rebic (AC Milan), Bruno Petkovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ante Budimir (Osasuna), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim)

The best players Croatia are bringing to Euro 2020

Goalkeeper: Dominik Livakovic

Danijel Subasic retired from international football after his heroics at the 2018 World Cup. Dominik Livakovic watched those performances from the sideline but now he’s stepped into a starting role and will be hoping to bring his Dinamo Zagreb performances through to Croatia. In the 11 games he played in the Europa League he kept an impressive six clean sheets.

Defence: Dejan Lovren

The self-proclaimed best defender in the world (circa 2018) is still the main man at the back for Croatia two years on from their World Cup run. Lovren is now playing for Zenit St. Petersburg who he has helped reach the top of the Russian Premier League.

Midfield: Luka Modric

Luka Modric was the main man in the Croatian midfield at the 2018 World Cup. Supported by Marcelo Brozovic and Ivan Rakitic, the Real Madrid midfielder dominated games and drove his side above and beyond their limitations. His efforts that summer were so intense that, for 18 months after, the Croatian looked a spent force, as if he had exchanged all his footballing life force for that one shot at glory. But the break that delayed the Euros a year also helped Luka Modric re-find himself. Since football’s return Modric has been lights out and, despite being 35 years old, is Real Madrid and Croatia’s best midfielder once again. A talisman of two sides.

Attack: Ivan Perisic

With Mario Mandzukic retired, Croatia have taken to using Ivan Perisic as their most advanced forward. Occasionally Ante Rebic, Nikola Vlasic or Ante Budimir will also take that role but Perisic remains Croatia’s most prolific forward and they will be hoping that his displays as a wing-back for Inter Milan won’t have dulled his goalscoring instinct come summer.

Who Are Croatia Manager at Euro 2020?

A former player Zlatko Dalic has been in charge of the Croatian National team since 2017. As a player, he played for a number of clubs starting his career at one of Croatia’s most successful clubs, Hajduk Split winning the Yugoslav cup in 1983. Dalic retired in 2000 at Varteks and moved into management.

In 2008 Dalic won his first major honour as a manager after winning the Albanian Cup with Dinamo Tirana. After a brief stint in Albania, Dalic returned to coach in Croatia. In 2010 he became coach of Saudi Arabian side Al Faisaly. Under his tutelage, the club enjoyed great success, by qualifying for the King’s Cup in the Saudi Professional League. He was named coach of the year in the same season by Al Riyadh newspaper.

A former player Zlatko Dalic has been in charge of the Croatian National team since 2017.
A former player Zlatko Dalic has been in charge of the Croatian National team since 2017.

In 2017 after the sacking of Ante Cacic after a series of poor results, Dalic was named head coach of the Croatian National team. Croatia qualified for the 2018 FIFA World Cup and reached the final of the same tournament. For his achievement, he was awarded the Franjo Bučar State Award for Sport which is the highest recognition award that Croatia gives for outstanding achievements.

Croatia Euro 2020 - The tactics

When they finished second in the 2018 World Cup, Croatia did so playing a 4-1-4-1 that relied on their three central midfielders (Marcelo Brozovic, Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric) to control the tempo of the game while also protecting against counter-attacks with Ante Rebic and Ivan Perisic both shuttling presences on the flanks.

Since then Dalic has experimented with different formations but it’s hard to see him not returning to the solidity of the 4-1-4-1 (or a slightly more offensive variant with the 4-2-3-1) at Euro 2020. Dejan Lovren and Domagoj Vida will, if fit, anchor the defence as they did in 2018.

The full-backs will be all new with Filip Uremovic likely to be the right-back while his great form for Rangers could give Borna Barisic the chance to address Croatia’s one area of weakness from 2018.

Croatia Euro 2020: Schedule Fixtues, Full Squad, Best Players, Manager, Tactics and Predictions

Midfield remains the key and you’d imagine Marcelo Brozovic and Luka Modric will take up the same roles they did at the World Cup with Ivan Rakitic being replaced by Mateo Kovacic. The Chelsea man is in a superb run of form under Thomas Tuchel and his all-around skill-set could make him an even better companion to Modric than Rakitic was.

Attack is a place of change. Perisic is a given and Ante Rebic might get a shot again but Nikola Vlasic, Andrej Kramaric and even Mislav Orsic are more in-form options for Dalic to choose from. Then there’s Mario Pasalic, whose involvement with the incredible Atalanta side has catapulted him right into Dalic’s thinking, making use of his size and skill as a sort of false No. 9.

Croatia Euro 2020 Predictions

Chance of Winning

If Croatia can beat England in the opening match then advancing out of the group looks likely. Just like 2018 in Russia, unity, atmosphere in the camp, passion and with Croatians all around the world behind them, anything really is possible.

Can it be done two major tournaments in a row? Most would say unlikely, but with how things have been going in the world lately, never rule anything out.

Likely starting eleven for the opening match: Livaković-Vrsaljko-Lovren-Vida-Barišić-Brozović-Modrić-Vlašić-Perišić-Rebić-Petković.

Croatia aren’t among the favourites for this summer’s tournament, however they aren’t true outsiders either. Sky Bet have them at 28/1 to win Euro 2020, which is reasonable given the tournament savvy they displayed in Russia, grinding their way to the final through multiple extra time periods and penalty shootouts. And with Mateo Kovacic able to step in and play the same crucial defensive role that Rakitic did at the World Cup, Modric’s ability to influence the tournament should remain as high as it was in 2018. And when Modric plays at that kind of level, all Croatia need to find is some goals.

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