Croatia Euro 2020 squad profile: Best player, manager and past record

Croatia Euro 2020 squad
(Image credit: Getty)

The Croatia Euro 2020 squad was one of the first to be announced for this summer's tournament.

The World Cup runners-up of three years' ago are in a Euro 2020 group along with England and Scotland, so there's added intrigue from Brits as to the inner workings of their squad.

ALSO SEE Euro 2020 fixtures and dates: Full schedule and how to watch every match of the 2021 summer tournament

Croatia Euro 2020 squad

Croatia Euro 2020 squad: Team profile

Croatia go into this tournament in an unusual new role. The 2018 World Cup runners-up carry the weight of expectation like never before; after finishing third at France 98, the Vatreni failed to even qualify for Euro 2000. 

In the past three years, Croatia have had to make a partial shift of generations – never an easy task for a country with so small a talent pool. The situation was hardly helped by Ivan Rakitic’s sudden international retirement last September, the midfielder following forward Mario Mandzukic and goalkeeper Danijel Subasic in saying goodbye to the national team in the aftermath of the sepia-tinged summer of 2018. Yet, still led by Luka Modric’s effortless brilliance, the perennial dark horses remain a strong outfit, albeit a little green around the edges. 

Some squad members have already shown great maturity in stepping up, particularly Dinamo Zagreb keeper Dominik Livakovic, 26, and 23-year-old former Everton midfielder Nikola Vlasic. Dinamo’s Mislav Orsic is still floating on air after his stunning hat-trick knocked Tottenham out of the Europa League. And coach Zlatko Dalic can also rely upon one player the wider European public has yet to meet: striker Bruno Petkovic. Similar to Olivier Giroud in many ways, the hulking Dinamo centre-forward offers Croatia a hitherto-unavailable tactical variant in a sea of pint-sized technicians. It is very important that he’s in optimal condition when the tournament starts.

Yet more vital is that Modric, the skipper, who is still playing at the highest level after yet another fine Real Madrid season, isn’t tired of wearing the chequered shirt. 

A major question mark is Sime Vrsaljko’s fitness. The Atletico Madrid full-back hasn’t completed a full season without persistent muscle injuries since 2018, and Dalic does not have an adequate replacement on the right-hand side of his defence. It remains a huge worry.

Croatia’s group is extremely demanding because it contains two hosts (England and Scotland) and the reawakened Czech Republic, whose players increasingly recall previous generations. That being said, reaching the knockout stages should not be an issue. That this is now the minimum expectation from the Croatian public is proof of just how far this team has come. The big names may lack their forebears’ stardust, but the talent remains for them to go far.

Croatia Euro 2020 squad: Who is Croatia's player?

Luka Modric, Croatia Euro 2020 squad

(Image credit: PA)

Luka Modric

Modric has been the beating heart of Croatia for over a decade, so the fact that he still plays at the highest level is nothing short of miraculous, even with Zinedine Zidane’s careful managing of the 35-year-old midfielder’s workload at Real Madrid. Without Rakitic, Croatia depend on Modric’s leadership more than ever.

Croatia Euro 2020 squad: Who is Croatia manager?

Zlatko Dalic

Dalic showed great man-management in taking a team that had struggled to qualify for Russia all the way to the final. Though results since have been mixed, the 54-year-old is beloved by his players

Croatia Euro 2020 squad: Croatia's past Euros record

Croatia first qualified for Euro 96, where they reached the quarter-finals. This was followed by failure to qualify in 2000, dropping out at the group stage at Euro 2004, before reaching the quarters again in 2008.

This was followed by another slump. In 2012, the group stage was the falling point once more, while they were knocked out in the second round at Euro 2016.

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FIXTURES AND DATES Full Euro 2020 schedule and how to watch every match of the 2021 summer tournament

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