CroatiaPosted on: 05 June 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves
There's more to Croatia than former Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic, as England found out.
Coach: Slaven Billic (39) Talented young boss whose attracted many fans throughout Europe for Croatia’s exciting on-pitch displays.
Away From The Game
Famous Export: Davor Suker (footballer), Goran Ivanisevic (Wimbledon tennis champion).
National Food: Cevapcici (sausage-shaped minced meat), Raznijici (grilled meat on skewers), Sarma (minced rice and meat rolled in cabbage leaves) and Djuvec (stew).
National Drink: Sljivovica (plum brandy), Travarica (herb brandy) and grappa (a fiery grape-based spirit).
National Animal: Dalmatian.
Star: Luka Modric (22), Tottenham Hotspur (Eng) midfield magician who cost over £16m this summer, and was instrumental in knocking England out of the qualifying competition at Wembley. Fast fooballing brain and superb technique.
Hidden Gem: Ivan Rakitic (20), Schalke 04 (Ger) Croatia’s new jewel in the crown. The Switzerland-born youngster can play on either flank and could be their surprise package.
How they Qualified: As top of Group E ahead of Russia, England, Israel, Estonia, Macedonia and Andorra.
Previous Best: 1996 quarter-finals.
FIFA Ranking: 13
Key Fact: Croatia are unbeaten in all competitive matches played on home soil since 1994.
Overview: Missing star striker Eduardo da Silva’s through injury, Croatia’s close-knit, talented young squad could emulate the famous Croatian side of 1998. About 50,000 fans are expected to travel to the Championships as a wave of optimism sweeps through the country but success is likely to depend on the attack in Eduardo’s absence.
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