Wednesday, May 31, 2006

World Cup Spotlight: Croatia

Although the Croatian World Cup squad lacks the impressive qualities that surprised everyone at Euro 96 (their first major international tournament) and two years later at the World Cup in France, wherein the Croats battled their way into third place, don't count them out just yet. Their tenacious courage on the pitch and the fact that they have plenty of fans in Germany (a number of players are employed in the Bundesliga) to back them up should make them tough to beat. Then again, they have Brazil to contend with in Group F as well as Japan and Australia. My money is on Brazil and Japan to make it out of the group, though you just never know with these things.

Players to look out for--midfielders Marko Babic (Bayer Leverkusen), Darijo Srna, team captain Niko Kovac (Hertha Berlin), and the young Luka Modric, who is supposed to be a promising talent; forwards Dado Prso (Rangers), a formidable striker who is an essential component of the squad (arguably the most essential part) and the unpredictable Ivica Olic (CSKA Moscow); and defender Robert Kovac (Juventus), younger brother of Niko's.

I wish the Croats much luck, but I really do think it's going to be a short tournament for them considering their lack of experienced players on this kind of scale. But you never know with these things, do you?

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