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Spying Croatia 2018 World Cup Team: Playing Style, Top Stars, Dangermen...Strength and Weakness

Zlatko Dalic became a rescue man as he brought in the needed breathe of life to Croatian World Cup qualifiers campaign. Croatia players celebrate during their 4-1 win over Greece in the play-off for a place in the World Cup finals in Russia.

From fixtures and fun facts to the key men, strength, weakness, all you need to know about Croatia ahead of this summer's World Cup in Russia

Manager's Playing Philosophy:
Zlatko Dalic being a defensive midfielder in his playing days build most of his team formation on strong defensive midfielder blocking off the back four defenders and supporting the attacking midfielders.

Having the luxury of high quality playmakers and ball jugglers in Luka Modric, Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic and Milan Badelj going upfront and scoring goal are made easier for the team. Dalic has concerned himself in building more formidable defense line...listed 12 defenders in his 32 man provisional list.

Dalic may prefers playing the 3-2-3-2 formation, judging his style from most teams he managed in Saudi Arabia, UAE... Dalic is a high motivational coach that fully understand the Croatian football culture and philosophy having managed the under21 national team and transformed several clubs to winning ways.

Star Player: Luka Modric - The Real Madrid midfielder has been named Croatia's Footballer of the Year six times. Won UEFA champions league four time in the last five editions, as the main playmaker of perhaps the best team in world, Real Madrid.

Key Players: Ivan Rakitic having become the mainstay playmaker in Barcelona Spanish Laliga champions this season after the exit of Xavi, maybe the real dangerman with unbelievable killer passes and scores a lot of goals himself

Another key player is Mario Mandžuki the Juventus striker will be expected to be a hand full for defenders. Very energetic player, very mobile and lethal in front of the post. He is goalkeepers nightmare.

Team Strength: Of course the strength of the Croatian national team is in the midfield going upfront and Dalic has rejuvenated the team style of play...and going by their play off performance against Greece, the new croatian formation suggest the team would be scoring lots of goals in their subsequent games..

Dalic is hoping that Mandzuki will be in his best element in Russia. If that happens, it may be very difficult to contain the fire power of the Croatian team upfront with Modric and Rakitic on the driving seat.

One wonders if the Nigerian team could keep pace with this highly tactical and techincal them. Nigeria will be depending on the defensive midfield strength of John Mikel Obi, Wilfred Ndidi and Ogeniyi Onazi to ward off their onslaught. As it is, the match against croatia will be lost and won in the midfield tussle.

Team Weakness: Although, Croatian defenders are very organized with Dejan Lovren ( Liverpool) , Šime Vrsaljko ( Atletico Madrid) spearheading the fire wall, they sometime loose concentration when put under immense pressure. The team's back five may sit pretty backtight in their 50 yard box to contain the speed and fast break of the Nigerian attackers.

But Nigerian silent killers and very poisonous attackers Kelechi Iheanacho and Alex Iwobi may cause the damage as they catch the Croatian defenders unaware from time to time, may slip the ball through to the goal net.

How they qualified:
Beat Greece 4-1 on aggregate in the European play-offs after finishing runners-up to Iceland in Group I.

Player you've never heard of:
Milan Badelj - The midfielder is a regular starter for Fiorentina, and has featured more than 30 times for Croatia since his debut in 2010.

Kit: Home - red and white; Away - black and dark blue.

Group D fixtures:
Nigeria (8pm, June 16, Kaliningrad),
Argentina (7pm, June 21, Nizhny Novgorod), Iceland (7pm, June 26, Rostov-On-Do)

Provisional Team List
Goalkeepers: Danijel Subašić ( Monaco ), Lovre Kalinić ( Gent ), Dominik Livaković ( Dinamo ), Karlo Letica
( Hajduk)

Defenders: Vedran Ćorluka » ( Lokomotiv Moscow ),
Domagoj Vida ( Besiktas), Ivan Strinić ( Sampdoria ),
Dejan Lovren ( Liverpool) , Šime Vrsaljko (Atletico Madrid), Josip Pivarić ( Dynamo Kiev), Tin Jedvaj ( Bayer Leverkusen ), Matej Mitrović ( Club Brugge ),
Borna Barišić ( Osijek) , Zoran Nižić ( Hajduk), Duje Ćaleta-Car ( Red Bull Salzburg ), Borna Sosa ( Dinamo).

Midfielders: Luka Modrić (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitić (Barcelona), Mateo Kovačić (Real Madrid), Milan Badelj ( Fiorentina ), Marcelo Brozović ( Inter ), Marko Rog ( Napoli), Mario Pašalić ( Spartak ), Filip Bradarić
( Rijeka )

Forwards: Mario Mandžukić ( Juventus ), Ivan Perišić (Inter), Nikola Kalinić ( Milan ), Andrej Kramarić ( Hoffenheim ), Marko Pjaca ( Schalke), Ante Rebić ( Eintracht ), Duje Čop ( Standard Liege ), Ivan Santini ( Caen).

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