Croatia is in Group A for the 2014 Brazil world cup. Croatia scored 43% of goals from inside the goal area (i.e. the 6 yard box,) which is the highest of any team headed for Brazil. The Croatian wings also created the most chances, as nearly two-thirds of their goals was set up from a wide position. They also defended well during the latter half of the game as they did not concede a goal in the last quarter of the game during qualifying, a job only two other finalists were able to do.
There is definite concern about the number of goals they can score as they scored at the lowest rate during qualifying, averaging only 1.17 goals per match. They were also one of the two finalists who have also never scored twice in a game, along with Nigeria. In defense, they are vulnerable to close range goals. It shows, as they were one of the two finalists that conceded a higher amount of goals from inside the goal area, the other being Iran.
Croatia will be depending on the experience of Coach Niko Kovac, a former national team member who took up the position in October, 2013. Kovac’s arrival considerably improved the struggling team to win its playoffs and move further. Croatia also has past demons to face, as it has invariably faltered many times during the knockout stages of previous world cups. It is noteworthy to mention that Croatia was on a prolific run during the 1998 France World Cup, which was their first World Cup, and ended up in the third place.
Croatia also has some key player, who can turn the tide, along its ranks. There is the up-and-coming play-maker Luka Modric, who is currently in great form. Of course from Croatia’s viewpoint that form will need to be consistent throughout. Modric will be ably supported by attacking midfielder, Ivan Rakitic. Up front, they have a lot of attacking power with players like Ivica Olic, Eduardo da Silva and Nikica Jelavic. There is also Mario Mandzukic, their top goal scorer, who is suspended after being sent-off during their last qualifier. They have plenty of defensive options even-though Josip Simunic, their star defender, is banned for 10 matches for making obscene gestures.
The prospects for Croatia this world cup seems dim on paper as both Brazil and Mexico, both in Group A, are hard to break down from the wings. The Mexicans are also very capable of scoring from the goal area as they have scored nearly one-third of their goals from close range. This is a crucial World Cup for Croatia as it is expected to reproduce its 1998 glory run or even top the same. With the current star power, all Croatia needs to do is play as a team and give its best, so that it fulfills the expectations at home.