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 it reached the quarterfinals of Euro '96.

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

Best performance: Quarterfinals 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 quarterfinal defeat to the Die Mannschaft at Euro '96, also helping it progress to the last-eight as group winners.

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

European Championship legend: Davor Suker. The then-Sevilla striker went to Euro '96 in irresistible form. He was the top scorer 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: Drazan Jerkovic's brace in the semifinal completed a remarkable 5-4 comeback victory over France, Dinamo Zagreb forward Slaven Zambata was top scorer in qualifying for the 1968 tournament and Ilija Petkovic and 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 era.

Croatia reaped the benefits when Yugoslavia broke up, building a team containing some of the Balkans' best talent -- including Davor Suker, Zvonimir Boban and Robert Prosinecki. It qualified for its first international tournament as an independent nation in its first attempt, reaching the quarterfinals of Euro '96 before losing to eventual winners Germany. After Croatia made it to the semifinals of the 1998 World Cup, it was a major shock when Croatia then failed to qualify for Euro 2000, particularly because Yugoslavia progressed at the Blazers' expense. Croatia was back at the continent's top table in 2004 but after draws against Switzerland and France, was sent packing in 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 campaign and three straight wins at the tournament. But, as favorites to progress to the semifinals, Croatia came unstuck after conceding a last-minute equalizer 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 in what was considered a pretty favorable 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 it 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 playoffs gave Croatia an opportunity to exact a measure of revenge on Euro 2008 conquerors Turkey, and it did just that; Bilic's charges won 3-0 in the first leg and drew 0-0 in Zagreb to qualify.

Qualifying record: P10, W7, D1, L2, F18, A7, Pts 22. Beat Turkey 3-0 on aggregate in playoff

Most appearances: Vedran Corluka, Eduardo (11)

Top goalscorer: Niko Kranjcar (4)


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