Euro 2012 teams

Team Profile: Croatia

A look back at the key points of Croatia's history in the Euros.

Mark Lomas

Davor Suker was Croatia's top scorer as they reached the quarter-finals of Euro '96

Overall record at finals: Played 11, Won 5, Drawn 3, Lost 3.

Best performance: Quarter-finals in 1996, 2008.

Most appearances at finals: Niko Kovac, Robert Kovac, Josip Simunic, Ivica Olic - 6

Most goals at finals: Davor Suker - 3 (1996)

European Championship high: A 2-1 group stage victory over eventual finalists Germany in 2008 - courtesy of goals from Darijo Srna and Ivica Olic - was sweet revenge for Croatia's quarter-final defeat to the Die Mannschaft at Euro '96 and helped them progress to the last-eight as group winners.

European Championship low: Penalty shoot-out defeat to Turkey in the Euro 2008 quarter-finals; Ivan Klasnic scored what appeared a certain winner in the 119th minute, but Semih Senturk equalised in injury time of extra-time and Croatia missed three of their four penalties to exit the competition.

European Championship legend: Davor Suker. The then-Sevilla striker went to Euro '96 in irresistible form having top scored in qualifying, plundering 12 goals in ten games, and he helped himself to three more in England - including a delicious chip over Peter Schmeichel that was unquestionably one of the goals of the tournament.

The story so far: Croatia provided a number of significant players to the former Yugoslavia team before the country's dissolution in 1992; there were four Croats in the side that reached the 1960 European Championship final, with Drazan Jerkovic's brace in the semi-final completing a remarkable 5-4 comeback victory over France, while Dinamo Zagreb forward Slaven Zambata was top scorer in qualifying for the 1968 tournament, and Ilija Petkovic Mirsad Fazlagic both played in the final defeat to Italy. The 1976 side also contained no fewer than seven players from the successful Hadjuk Split team of the period.

The break-up of Yugoslavia saw Croatia reap the benefits, building a team containing some of the Balkans best talent - including Davor Suker, Zvonimir Boban and Robert Prosinecki - and qualifying for their first international tournament as an independent nation at the first time of asking, reaching the quarter-finals of Euro '96 before losing to eventual winners Germany. Having reached the semi-finals of the 1998 World Cup, it was a major shock when they then failed to make it to Euro 2000, and especially galling as it was Yugoslavia who progressed at their expense. Croatia were back at the continent's top table in 2004 but after draws against Switzerland and France, they were sent packing at the group stage by a Wayne Rooney-inspired England side. The Three Lions were undone in Euro 2008 qualifying, though, as Slaven Bilic oversaw an impressive ampaign and three straight wins at the tournament. But, as favourites to progress to the semi-finals, Croatia came unstuck after conceding a last-minute equaliser against Turkey, who went on to win on penalties.

Qualification: Slaven Bilic's side bounced back from the anguish of missing the 2010 World Cup by finishing second it what was considered a pretty favourable group including Greece, Israel, Latvia, Georgia and Malta. A surprise 1-0 defeat in Georgia could have knocked Croatia off course but a 3-1 victory over Israel last September put them on track for at least a second-placed finish before a 2-0 defeat away to Greece gave the Euro 2004 champions the decisive blow in the race to win the group. The play-offs gave Croatia an opportunity to exact a measure of revenge on Euro 2008 conquerors Turkey and they did just that, Bilic's charges winning 3-0 in the first leg and drawing 0-0 in Zagreb to qualify.

Qualifying record: P10, W7, D1, L2, F18, A7, Pts22. Beat Turkey 3-0 on aggregate in play-off.

Most appearances: Vedran Corluka, Eduardo (11)

Top goalscorer: Niko Kranjcar (4).


To comment, you must be a registered user. Please Sign In or Register