Posted on: 05 June 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

There's more to Croatia than former Wimbledon winner Goran Ivanisevic, as England found out.

Football Profile

Coach: Slaven Billic (39) Talented young boss whose attracted many fans throughout Europe for Croatia’s exciting on-pitch displays.

Away From The Game

Capital: Zagreb

Population: 4.5m

Currency: Kuna

Language(s): Croatian

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.

Ivan KlasnicOverview: 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.

Odds: 12/1


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