May 16, 2006
Random World Cup Facts: Croatia
Times Qualified: 3
Best Finish: 3rd (1998)
Top Political Issue in Croatia: There really is not much happening in Croatian politics at the moment. Other than a planned visit by Kazakhstan President Nursultan Nazarbayev, the World Cup seems to be the biggest news.
Football in Croatia: Since becoming independent in 1991, Croatia has qualified for every World Cup it has been permitted to qualify for. Croatia was the most competitive of the nations of the former Yugoslavia, but performances have become worse recently.
The Croatian First League is a weak league dominated by two clubs, Dinamo Zagreb and Hajduk Split. These two clubs are the contributers of the four domestic based players in the World Cup squad. The rest of the squad is divided all around Europe from Scotland to the Ukraine.
Players to Watch: Croatia has plenty of talented players at its disposal. Ivan Klasnic (Werder Bremen) is a striker who excels not only at scoring goals, but setting up his teammates as well. Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk) is a dangerous player who can play at right back or the right side of midfield. He can be deadly on set pieces.
Chances: Croatia are the only team in their group likely to take a point off of Brazil. Japan and Australia may pose problems in their own way.
Prediction: Second Round