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Euro 2021: Croatia Preview, Predictions & Betting Odds

Croatia European Championship Record

Quarter-final: 1996, 2008
Group stage: 2004, 2012
Did not qualify: 2000

Total: W6 D4 L4 18:16

Croatia Euro 2021 Qualifying Record

W6 D3 L1 20:5

Croatia Euro 2021 Group Fixtures

12th June @15:00 – Turkey vs Croatia (Parc des Princes, Paris)

17th June @18:00 – Czech Republic vs Croatia (Stade Geoffroy-Guichard, Saint Etienne)

21st June @21:00 – Croatia vs Spain (Stade Matmut Atlantique, Bordeaux)

Road to Euro 2021

After taking the Croatia national team as far as he could, Slaven Blic withdraw, leaving a big gap to fill, and his successor Niko Kovac was unable to rebuild the team spirit and get the team playing to their potential. He eventually paid the price for under-par performances as he was sacked after the Norway defeat, with just two qualifiers to go, but it was the choice of his replacement that caused a great deal of controversy in the media.

The virtually unknown Ante Cacic took over the reigns, causing a great deal of fans to boycott the national team, and the situation in the squad did not improve in spite of back to back wins over Bulgaria and Malta that secured the team a place at the Euro 2021 finals. With key players largely underperforming during the qualifying campaign, Croatia could be in for a disappointing tournament in France.

Style of Play

Even though Ante Cacic also tested the unconventional 3-5-2 formation in the March friendly against Israel, chances are he will not be using said system again as his side exhibited plenty of defensive weaknesses against average Israel side. Therefore, he is expected to stay true to the 4-2-3-1 system in spite of the burning issue that is the left-back position, likely to be covered by right-back Sime Vrsaljko in France.

Dynamo Kiev stopper Domagoj Vida was expected to play on the left-hand side having successfully operated there on club level, but Cacic’s decision not to take key centre-back Dejan Lovren to Euro 2021 caused additional problems. This means that Vida is almost certain to be paired with Vedran Corluka in the heart of defence, while captain Darijo Srna and Sime Vrsaljko will operate on the flanks.

Luka Modric and Milan Badelj should form the midfield pairing, where the former will act as a deep-lying playmaker and also make forward runs, while the latter will be mostly focused on covering for the shaky back four. They will have three attack-minded midfielders in front of them, with Ivan Rakitic playing through the middle and Ivan Perisic and Marko Pjaca on the wings.

Ante Cacic has tried to accommodate both Mario Mandzukic and Nikola Kalinic by changing his preferred style of play, but chances are that the Bayern Munich striker will operate as a lone forward, while the Fiorentina hotshot will have to wait for his chance from the bench.

Croatia definitely has the potential to dominate games, but much will depend on the inspiration of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic, who do not always perform up to the standard when playing for the national team. Captain Darijo Srna can be trusted to make plenty of forward runs, while Sime Vrsaljko on the other flank should be more concentrated on the defensive phase.

Vatreni will face serious problems at the back in the absence of Dejan Lovren and natural left-back, and unless their midfielders and Mario Mandzukic can turn on the style early on, Ante Cacic’s side could find it hard to live up to the billing at Euro 2021.

Strong Points

  • Formidable midfield area
  • Plenty of international experience
  • Excellent creative department
  • Two in-form strikers
  • Dangerous on the wings and through the middle

Weak Spots

  • Inexperienced head coach
  • Back line not used to playing together
  • Left-back position
  • Poor dressing room atmosphere

Croatia Euro 2021 Starting Line-Up

Euro 2021: Croatia Preview, Predictions & Betting Odds

Missing: Josip Pivaric (injury), Dejan Lovren (overlooked)


On paper, Croatia have the quality needed to reach the final stages of the Euro 2021, but the reality is they have little to hope for ahead of the showpiece tournament. Ante Cacic is probably the worst coach to have ever occupied this role and his lack of experience is likely to prove a major issue. The players are well aware of his incompetence and, therefore, will lack motivation to turn his ideas into reality, as witnessed by some under-par showings in Euro 2021 qualifiers and March friendlies.

While key midfielder Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic rarely impress when playing for the national team, Vatreni have serious problems at the back, especially now that the coach has banished key defender Dejan Lovren from the squad. Of the back four that is expected to start the opening game against Turkey, only captain Darijo Srna deserves to be playing at the highest level, and his forward runs will be adding to the worries at the back. All things considered, Croatia are highly unlikely to finish in top 2 in Group D.

IST Tip: Croatia to finish bottom of Group D
Odds: 6.00 (5/1) @BetVictor

Interesting Markets

*Croatia to be eliminated in group stage is 3.00 (2/1) @888sport
*Croatia to qualify is 1.36 (4/11) @Ladbrokes
*Croatia to take 1 group stage point is 8.50 (15/2) @888sport
*Croatia to lose all group games is 21.00 (20/1) @888sport

Croatia Euro 2021 Squad:

Goalkeepers: Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Lovre Kalinic (Hajduk Split), Ivan Vargic (Rijeka);

Defenders: Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk), Domagoj Vida (Dynamo Kiev), Sime Vrsaljko (Sassuolo), Gordon Schildenfeld (Dinamo Zagreb), Ivan Strinic (Napoli), Tin Jedvaj (Bayer Leverkusen);

Midfielders: Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacic (both Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), Ivan Perisic (Inter Milan), Milan Badelj (Fiorentina), Marko Rog (Dinamo Zagreb), Ante Coric (Dinamo Zagreb);

Forwards: Mario Mandzukic (Juventus), Nikola Kalinic (Fiorentina), Marko Pjaca (Dinamo Zagreb), Duje Cop (Dinamo Zagreb), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim).

Last updated: 5th June 2016

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