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FIFA World Cup history
The Croats arrived for their maiden shot at the FIFA World Cup™ in 1998 as virtual unknowns, but were to prove one of the surprises of the tournament. They finished second in their group behind Argentina after losing 1-0 to the South Americans, but beating Jamaica 3-1 and Japan 1-0. A 1-0 win over Romania saw them through to the last eight and a meeting with Germany, where they stunningly won 3-0 to send the three-time world champions packing. Hosts and eventual winners France proved too strong in a 2-1 semi-final defeat, but the new boys crowned a dream debut by beating the Netherlands 2-1 in the third place play-off. The next two tournaments proved thoroughly disappointing by comparison, as Croatia failed to survive the group stage at both Korea/Japan 2002 and Germany 2006.
The current crop
Despite their absence from the 2010 finals, Croatia are a match for anyone on their day. Their goal is to recapture the glory days of the late 90′s golden generation, of which he himself was a member. With many of the squad playing regularly in the English Premier League and the German Bundesliga, there is no reason why they cannot make an impact at Brazil 2014.
The key players
Experienced captain Darijo Srna is a born leader, and playmakers Luka Modric and Niko Kranjcar can always be relied upon for moments of inspiration. Kovac presides over a wealth of international-class attacking talent including Eduardo, Ivica Olic, Nikita Jelavic and Mario Mandzukic.
Coach: Niko Kovac
Best performance in a FIFA competition: 1998 FIFA World Cup France (Third place)
Former stars: Davor Suker, Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinecki