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Croatia: Midfield maestros excel in complete squad

7 June 2018
Looking to improve their third place at the FIFA World Cup of 1998, Croatia are going to Russia with a wonderfully talented squad. Remiqz shows that with midfield stars Modric and Rakitic in their team, Croatia could be in for a run that goes deep into the tournament.
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Chances of Winning

Using our unique simulation tool, Remiqz is able to predict the course of the FIFA World Cup. According to our calculations, there is a slim 2.0% chance that Croatia will end the tournament as winners. This makes them the eighth most likely winner of the FIFA World Cup in Russia.

The Croats are paired with Argentina, Nigeria and Iceland in Group D and according to our simulations, this yields a 79.9% chance to progress to the next round. Nigeria is not likely to pose a threat if Croatia limit the danger from their counter attacks. Furthermore, Croatia have a side that is very capable for breaking down the Icelandic wall.

Argentina – Croatia is set to be one of the finer games of the group phase and might be a direct duel for the top spot in Group D. The team that ends second in this group is likely to meet France in the round of 16, so sparks might be flying in the Nizhny Novgorod Stadium when Argentina and Croatia meet.

Selection

Barring Spain, Croatia can field arguably the best midfield at the FIFA World Cup. Ivan Rakitić (EPI: 5149) and Luka Modrić (EPI: 4744) are guaranteed starters at two of the biggest clubs in Europe. The strength of their midfield is also shown in the fact that the four best Croatian players who are left home are all midfielders as well, of whom Napoli’s Marko Rog (EPI: 2861) is best known.

Beside their star talent in midfield, Croatia have a lot of players who play at some of Europe’s biggest clubs. Players from Liverpool, Juventus, Inter Milan, AS Monaco, Atlético Madrid and AC Milan are present in the World Cup squad of 23 and with an average EPI of 3386, the Croats are truly a gifted bunch of football players.

Style of play

Croatia play a fluent 4-3-3 with Modric and Rakitic as free-roaming midfielders in front of a traditional number six who keeps balance. The defense is experienced, but also lacks pace and sheer defensive quality, which is reflected in the central defenders Dejan Lovren and Vedran Ćorluka.

Rakitic and Modric have been playing together for years and have a very good understanding of who should collect the ball deep and who should play a little higher up the pitch. It is still a question who will join them in midfield: Mateo Kovačić or Milan Badelj.

Up front we see one of the hardest working attackers in football: Mario Mandzukic. Once a striker, Juventus manager Max Allegri has turned him into a disciplined left winger. It is still a question where he will play for his national team this summer, having seen action as a left winger, striker and right winger in recent years.

As shown in Croatia’s friendly match against Brazil (2-0 loss), this is a side that is not afraid to press the opponent high up the pitch. If they can keep the ball in the half of the opponent and make the most of their chances Croatia might just the sensation of the tournament in Russia.

(Images by Pro Shots)