Team-by-team guide: 2022 Croatia World Cup preview

To prepare you for the tournament, The18 has launched team-by-team previews for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. Here's the Croatia World Cup preview 2022. The Vatreni will play in Group F against Belgium, Morocco and Canada.

Croatia World Cup Preview 2022

World Cup appearances: 6th

Best Finish: Second place (Russia 2018)  

How They Got Here: Croatia got their ticket to Qatar after topping Group F in the UEFA qualifiers with 23 points, one more than Russia.

And we don't talk about Russia.

Coach: Zlatko Dalic (Croatian)

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World Cup squad: From the same bar he did in 2018, Zlatko Dalic announced the final roster for Qatar.

  • Goalkeepers: Dominik Livakovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ivica Ivusic (NK Osijek), Ivo Grbic (Atletico Madrid)
  • Defenders: Domagoj Vida (AEK Athens), Dejan Lovren (Zenit St Petersburg), Borna Barisic (Rangers), Josip Juranovic (Celtic), Josko Gvardiol (RB Leipzig), Borna Sosa (VfB Stuttgart), Josip Stanisic (Bayern Munich), Martin Erlic (Sassuolo), Josip Sutalo (Dinamo Zagreb)
  • Midfielders: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Mateo Kovacic (Chelsea), Marcelo Brozovic (Inter Milan), Mario Pasalic (Atalanta), Nikola Vlasic (Torino), Lovro Majer (Stade Rennais), Kristijan Jakic (Eintracht Frankfurt), Luka Sucic (Salzburg)
  • Forwards: Ivan Perisic (Tottenham Hotspur), Andrej Kramaric (Hoffenheim), Bruno Petkovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Mislav Orsic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ante Budimir (Osasuna), Marko Livaja (Hajduk Split)

Strongest XI: (4-3-3) Dominik Livakovic; Josip Juranovic, Josip Sutalo, Josko Gvardiol, Borna Sosa; Marcelo Brozovic, Mateo Kovacic, Luka Modric; Mario Pasalic, Andrej Kramaric, Ivan Perisic

Injuries: Domagoj Vida (adductor, questionable)

What's To Like: There is not much secret. An integral part of Croatia's success in the last decade rests on the shoulders of the magnificent trio they have in the midfield. Coach Dalic has basically created this team around Brozovic, Kovacic and the perennial genius of the 37-year-old Luka Modric. 

Yes, they are older, and yes, Brozovic is not one hundred percent fit, but the chemistry hasn't disappeared; it only has transformed. 

Another thing to keep an eye on is their fantastic power on the left side. Perisic is a mainstay in attack, but also he will have the support of VfB Stuttgart full-back Borna Sosa, who is currently the third best assister in the Bundesliga 2022-23. 

What's Not To Like: The backline is a thing of concern – starting for the goalkeeper position. Coach Dalic has struggled to find the perfect No. 1, but it seems Livakovic will be the man for the job during the WC. 

The CB roles are also a big issue in this team. Young Josko Gvardiol is the only defender reliable enough to have secured a starting spot, while Sutalo and veterans Vida and Lovren are fighting for the other. 

X-Factor: Luka Modric

At 37 years old, Modric is still running as if he was 20. The Croatian virtuoso led Croatia to second place in Russia with magic, charisma and a phenomenal work rate display. And since then he hasn't stopped winning LaLiga and Champions League trophies with Real Madrid.

In Qatar, we don't see Modric doing anything other than keep inspiring and pushing teammates to give until the last drop of blood in their hearts. 

Best Hair: Let's say Borna Sosa

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Most Likely To Fuck It All Up: Envisioning a goalkeeper howler here.

What Will Make This A Good World Cup: Semifinals

Bonus Prediction: Modric will stun the world with one goal or one assist, curling the ball with the outside of his right foot. 

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