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Croatia: World Cup team profile

The talented side played beneath their level in qualifying, and will be in tough in a group that includes the host nation.

The Vatreni played beneath their level in qualifying

Croatia struggled through qualifying and needed to win a playoff versus Iceland to advance to the World Cup. (Alex Grimm/Getty Images)

The talented side played beneath their level in qualifying, and will be in tough in a group that includes the host nation. 

The Star

Luka Modric is shining with Spanish giant Real Madrid, and Croatia is hoping that his deft playmaking ability will push the side into a knockout round berth. 

Fast Facts

  • World Cup Group: A
  • Nickname: Vatreni
  • Manager: Niko Kovač
  • Captain: Darijo Srna
  • FIFA World Ranking: 18
  • Best World Cup Result: 3rd place, 1998
  • Qualification Method: 2nd in UEFA Group A, won playoff vs. Iceland

Road to Rio

Qualification looked assured when Croatia won five of its first six games. But then the wheels fell off, with the Vatreni suffering three losses and a draw to fall to second spot in Group A behind Belgium. 

Croatia got a favourable draw in the playoff and faced Iceland. Though the underdog Icelanders were game, Croatia was too much to handle, and won the Vatreni won 2-0 on aggregate to book their spot in Brazil. 

How they Fared in 2010

Croatia missed out on the World Cup in 2010. The Vatreni’s last appearance came in 2006, where they finished a disappointing third place in Group F and didn’t advance to the knockout stages. 

Fixtures

Group A

  • Thursday June 12 -- Brazil vs. Croatia, 4 p.m. ET
  • Wednesday June 18 -- Cameroon vs. Croatia, 6 p.m. ET
  • Monday June 23 -- Croatia vs. Mexico, 4 p.m. ET

Outlook

Group A is Brazil’s to lose, but second spot is a toss-up between Croatia and an equally-struggling Mexican side. Progression will likely come down to the final group match between the two sides, with the victor being rewarded with an extremely tough round of 16 clash, likely against Spain or the Netherlands. 

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