Euro 2012: The Contenders – Croatia




Defending Champions Spain and giants Italy form the powerhouses of Group C in a pool that also contain the Republic of Ireland and dark horses Croatia.

Euro 2012: The Contenders - Croatia

Euro 2012: The Contenders – Croatia

Spain, after winning the Championships in 2008 have won 33 of their 36 competitive games since, thus making them the team to beat in Poland and Ukraine. Italy, despite their recent run of form, are expected to go scrape through to the knockouts. Republic of Ireland are a team capable of springing up surprises while Croatia, on their day, can be world beaters.

Croatia:

Slaven Bilic’s Croatian squad hasn’t ended an year outside the top ten rankings at the end of an year since 2006 but in a pool comprising of Italy and Spain, that Croatia remain the outsiders to make it to the knockout stages. The Euro 2012 would be the last assignment for Bilic after six years in charge and the players would be hoping to give their coach a warm farewell with an impressive showing in the tourney.

The Croats suffered heartbreak in the previous edition as they crashed out in the Quarterfinals after a penalty shootout to Turkey. But Bilic’s team extracted revenge this time out as the Croats comfortably got the better of Turkey during the qualification play-offs after they had finished second in the pool behind Greece.

Bilic’s preparations were affected by injury to star Bayern striker Ivica Olic and now heavily bank on Everton’s Nika Jelavic and Darijo Srna to provide the goals.

Key Player: There is little doubt that Croatia’s most popular and best player remains Luka Modric. The midfielder cum playmaker was instrumental in Tottenham’s fourth place but failure to qualify for the Champions League has put Modric in many a European team’s radar.

Other Stars: Nico Kranjcar, Nika Jelavic, Vedran Corluka

Prediction: Semifinals, the surprise package of the season.

Croatia have the ability to play attractive, eye catching football and mix it with a bit of physical presence. If they can manage to hold Italy off, Croatia are in with a chance of qualifying for the knockouts. Each major tournament tend to throw up a surprise semifinalist, Croatia could well be the surprise package this year.

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Monish Menon

Author:

Hi, I am Monish Menon from Hyderabad and currently working at Franklin Templeton Investments as a Compliance Business Analyst. Sport has always been my passion since I was a kid and I invest all my non-existent free time by watching, playing, writing and analyzing various sporting events across the world. Apart from being a diehard Manchester United fan and a Ferrari supporter, I believe that Roger Federer is still the best tennis player and Sachin Tendulkar is God. I play club cricket and I also am a part of my organization’s cricket and football squad. Being such a sports fanatic, writing about it is something that came naturally to me and I am glad that I got an opportunity through thesportsmirror.com to share my thoughts with the rest of the world. For other articles written by me, you can visit my blog at www.monishmenon.wordpress.com

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