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Since the 2002 World Cup, the Croatian team has kept up its dubious reputation of qualifying for major tournaments only to disappoint in the final stages. The team, which is managed by Slaven Bilic and coached by Otto Baric, has rebuilt itself and now brings to the field a strong defence.
Croatia finished third at the 1998 FIFA World Cup. However they failed to replicate such form since. But hopes are high for coach Slaven Bilic's new generation team.
Croatia made good use of emerging talent, with the likes of Eduardo da Silva, Luka Modric and Vedran Corluka and won their qualifying group in dramatic style. Each one of the new stars proved their worth. Along with changes of personnel came a change of tactics, with Bilic abandoning Croatia's traditional 3-5-2 formation and introducing a robust 4-4-2 in its place.
In an injury free ideal situation, Croatia's back four comprises of the experienced Robert Kovac and Dario Simic, with Corluka at left-back and Josip Simunic on the right. Captain Niko Kovac usually occupies the more withdrawn central midfield slot. The rising star of the Croatian football scene Modric (22) deployed in front of him.
Darijo Srna's attacking and crossing are vital to Croatia. Jerko Leko and Ognjen Vukojevic will be hopeful of occupying the right flank but will struggle to dislodge Darijo Srna. Niko Kranjcar remains a useful option on the left side of midfield and can also play a more central role, while Danijel Pranjic and Ivica Olic provide more attack-minded options in the same position.
Up front, Olic's pace will be threatening, especially if Bilic switches to a 4-3-3 template. However, naturalised Brazilian Eduardo is the spearhead of Bilic's team, with Mladen Petric having proved his awareness and finishing alongside the Arsenal FC man in qualifying. Bosko Balaban, Igor Budan and youngsters Nikola Kalinic and Mario Mandzukic are also in contention.
Croatia Euro SquadThis is the official Euro 2008 Squad of Croatia:
(the deadline for nominating the Euro squad was May 28)
Eduardo da Silva unfortunately misses the Euro 2008 due to injury (we all remember why).
User opinions and Euro 2008 betting prediction on Croatia:
My tip for the Euro2008 is Croatia
I have chosen this team , as a result of their recent highly successful qualifying campaign in which they were very strong , not only in beating a decent England side at home and away , but it also indicates their confidence is pretty high going into this tournament now.
They seem to be a difficult , organised team to beat and also have a confident manager in Slaven Bilic who to me may very well soon be a manager of one of the big clubs in Europe .
As such it is difficult to predict a winner before the tournament begins and before we have seen each team play at least once , added to the fact that a team could lose on the lottery of penalties somewhere in the knockout rounds , or even the Final !!.
There is always room for a surprise.Why not this time?Yes the France looks strong.Italy and Spain also looks strong.But those are also the favorites.I'll have a courage and predict a surprise winner of Croatia team.
We already surprise at the qualification round.There are always room for one more surprise.
I must admit that in reality I will rather go for a France winner but probablu 95% will vote for France,Spain or Italy so I made my pick as a proud Croat and pick my team to hit the roof.
It cost me nothing tough.I will bet at my bookmaker also some 150Euro but will also put 150 Euro on France team.
So Croatia to be the winner of Euro 2008.
My pick is Croatia. They will miss Eduardo from arsenal, but they still have plenty of talent. They have a very skillful midfield, with Modric and Kranjcar. Also alot of their players are not afraid to test the goal keeper from distance, which I think not enough players attempt to do.