Unlike France, Croatia doesn’t have a long history of playing in FIFA World Cups. The modern Croatia, as a country, was formed in 1990 and after three years, its international football team was recognised by UEFA and FIFA. The Vatreni qualified for their first ever world cup in 1998 and went onto play in the semi-finals where they were eventually eliminated by the title-winning team of France.
Fast forward 20 years and the two teams are once again at the loggerheads but with apparent higher stakes. The two European footballing giants will collide together in the FIFA World Cup 2018 final on July 15, Sunday, and Croatia will have the opportunity to avenge that 1998 World Cup semi-final defeat and register their name in history books. Here’s a look at 5 Croatian players who can make the difference in the world cup final:
Luka Modric’s contribution to Croatia in the ongoing world cup goes without saying. To say the least, there are many calling out his name to win the Ballon d’Or for his incredible performances in Russia. He is a true leader who is leading Vatreni by example having already chipped a couple of assists in the tournament.
He may not be a leader like Modric but his expansive passing is second to none. The Barcelona midfielder has the ability to see the perfect pass and unleash his team’s quick forwards on a through ball. Along with his Real Madrid counterpart, he makes up the finest midfield combinations in the world cup.
Mandzukic is best known for three things – heading ability, clinical finishing and tireless running. The Juventus attacker has a never-give-up attitude and it was on a full display in the semi-final match against England where he scored the winner. The threat that he poses in the opposition’s box can make the towering French defenders uncomfortable.
Perisic’s off the ball movement alone is worth millions and top it up with his deft touch on the ball, he becomes a beast of a forward in front of goal. Seria giants Inter’s mainstay from past couple of years now, Perisic has the potential to stretch the play and draw defenders to him giving enough time and space to his teammates to capitalise upon.
Dejan Lovren is one of the most under-rated centrebacks in the world. He has displayed his incredible nose to snuff out dangers at both club and national level, and it will be a difficult task for the French forwards to get past him and force some footwork to Subasic.