Croatia finished runners-up in the 2018 World Cup and come on the back of an unbeaten run in qualifying. However, they required extra time in each of their last games to get to the championship round. In the round of 16 and quarterfinals, Croatia defeated Denmark and the host nation Russia on penalties. In the subsequent four extra-time periods versus England, Mario Mandzukic’s goal in the 109th minute secured Croatia’s victory. However, in their first World Cup final, Croatia lost 4-2 to France, with Mandzukic scoring both Croatia’s second goal and its own goal.
The European Championships were dismal, and Croatia was eliminated in the round of 16 at Euro 2020 after losing to Spain 5-3 in overtime. However, they just beat France, Austria, and Denmark to make the final four of the Nations League, giving them a confidence boost before the World Cup. Croatia’s journey to the World Cup final in Russia four years ago was their highest-ever placing. They had previously placed third at the competition, which was their first as an independent country.
After terrible Nations League and Euro 2020 campaigns following the previous World Cup, Croatia is in fantastic shape right now. Since Spain knocked them out in the final 16 last summers, they have only lost once. Zlatko Dalic started to alter his team’s composition, especially in terms of age, and they are entering this competition with a mix of seasoned internationals and exciting young players who are already making headlines.
Lovro Majer, an offensive midfielder for Rennes, has drawn interest from the Premier League after his stunning goal against Denmark in the Nations League in September, which he called “one of the greatest I’ve scored in my career.” Borna Sosa, 24, has excelled as a left-back for Croatia, replacing the 20-year-old Josko Gvardiol in that position. Josip Stanisic of Bayern Munich and Martin Erlic of Sassuolo have both made strong defensive contributions as Dalic continues to develop the next generation of players.
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