Like Mexico I think Croatia may be a Dark Horse. They have been a bit of a dark horse team for a while. I remember them knocking England out of Euro 2004 qualifying and then going on to have a good tournament. Like Mexico I don’t expect to see Croatia win it but either them or Mexico could make an impression.
They have some obvious class with the like of Modric and Rakitic in midfield and they have a defender I rate very highly in Dejan Lovren who plays in the premier league for Southampton. You may remember they also have former Arsenal player Eduardo and for Spurs players Kranjcar (now of QPR) and Corluka but I think a lot of people forget they also have Hull Striker Kelavic and Bayern Munich Mario Mandzukic who was amazing against Manchester United in the Champions league this year. add to that the experience of Pletikosa (34 year old goalkeeper who has 109 caps), Darijo Srna (who has 111 caps and plays for Donetsk) and Ivica Olic (of Wolfsburg and formally of Bayern Munich and has 90 caps) this side has been about. The next generation looks good for Croatia as well. the like of Badelj (25 playing for Hamburg), Mateo Kovacic who plays in Italy for Inter Milan and Ante Rebic who is also in Italy with Fiorentina. The only surprise may be the fact they left out Alen Halilovic who has just signed for Barcelona after impressing in Croatia and is rated as the European Messi. Im sure that if he was Niko Kovac wouldn't have left him at home.
They are missing Josip Simunic who has been banned for the cup due to comments he made on a loud speaker after they qualified. I have looked at the squad I think they are better without Simunic as i don’t rate him anyway.
They have a tough group of Brazil, Mexico and Cameroon. Its not an easy group. Ive done blogs on all 4 now and what in my head started off as an easy ride to for Brazil actually looks harder than it seems. Id be Shocked if Brazil didnt go through and id expect it to be either Mexico or Croatia to join them in the knock out stages. I do feel Croatia are slightly stronger but im really looking forward to the Mexico v Croatia game as that will decide to me who will go through. Don’t rule Cameroon out but its a hard ask for them. They look on paper the weakest side in the group.
Star Man: Luca Modric
One to watch: Ivan Rakitic
Prediction: maybe Quarter Finals but could also go out in the group