The team: It took a nervy playoff victory over minnows Iceland for Croatia to confirm their place at Brazil 2014, and it’s clear they’ll have to improve considerably if they’re to progress from the group. But a scan of the squad reveals plenty of experienced players, who should be capable of grinding out results. But a repeat of their third place finish in 1998 seems highly unlikely.
The coach: Nico Kovac
Former Croatian international Nico Kovac stepped into the breach when Igor Stimac resigned after Croatia’s last qualification group game. Previously the team’s U21 coach, he just about steered Croatia past Iceland in the playoff, but he will face a stiff test in Brazil.
Key player: Luka Modric
Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric would be a star player for any team at the tournament. His ability to pull the strings could be the difference between a group stage exit and reaching the knockout stages.
World ranking: 20
World Cup appearances: 3
Previous best: Third place in 1998
Qualification: Second in group and playoff winner
Form (qualifiers): WDWWWWLDLLDW
Fixtures: June 13 vs. Brazil; June 19 vs. Cameroon; June 24 vs. Mexico