Croatia’s Euro 2024 Hopes: Can Modric Lead Another Deep Run?

Modric leads Croatia at Euro 2024

Croatia at Euro 2024: Can Modric’s Experience Propel Them Forward?

Croatia’s impressive World Cup journey in Qatar set high expectations. With a team full of seasoned veterans, can Zlatko Dalic’s squad once again surprise at Euro 2024?

Dalic: Croatia’s Resilient Leader

When Zlatko Dalic became Croatia’s coach in 2017, few predicted his success. Managing teams like Slaven Belupo and clubs in the Middle East seemed far from international glory. Yet, Dalic defied the odds, leading Croatia to the 2018 World Cup final and another strong showing in Qatar, cementing his status as a national hero.

Under Dalic, Croatia employs a solid, possession-based 4-3-3 formation, known for conceding few goals. A devout Catholic who carries a rosary during matches, Dalic extended his contract through the 2026 World Cup, reflecting his unwavering dedication.

Youth vs. Experience

Croatia’s strength is its experience, yet this also poses a challenge. Stars like Modric (38), Kovacic (30), and Brozovic (31) dominate the midfield, leaving little room for emerging talent. However, exciting prospects like uncapped winger Toni Fruk, who tallied 16 assists for Rijeka last season, and 21-year-old Martin Baturina, seen as Modric’s potential heir, could break through. Both are in the preliminary squad, but their roles remain uncertain.

The Double-Edged Sword of Experience

With Modric, Kovacic, and Brozovic boasting a combined 368 caps, and veterans like Perisic (35), Vida (35), and Kramaric (32) adding further experience, Croatia’s wealth of knowledge is evident. However, concerns arise about the team’s age and susceptibility to younger, more energetic opponents. Their unsteady qualifying campaign, marked by losses to Turkey and Wales, exacerbates these worries. Additionally, Perisic’s recent ACL injury and potential goal-scoring issues if Kramaric struggles are troubling signs.

A Family Affair

Manager Dalic opened a Croatian restaurant named “The Family” last year, adorned with national team memorabilia. Stars like Modric and Kovacic attended the opening, highlighting the team’s strong camaraderie, a key factor in their recent successes.

Realistic Expectations

Croatian fans hold a mix of hope and realism. The team’s achievements in 2018 and Qatar set high expectations, but there’s also a recognition that this might be a final run for icons like Modric and Perisic. Croatia faces a tough group stage draw against Italy, Spain, and Albania. Dalic has tempered expectations, suggesting that reaching the knockout stages would be a success. Croatia hasn’t reached the Euro quarter-finals since 2008, and anything less would likely disappoint. Avoiding another heartbreaking extra-time defeat and securing a favorable draw if they advance will be crucial.

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With a squad rich in experience and led by a pragmatic manager, Croatia will be a formidable opponent. The question remains: Can they defy age and deliver one last magical performance? Time will tell.

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