How Has Croatia Performed in Previous World Cups?
Croatia had their best run in the World Cup in 2022, when they reached the semi-finals and went against all odds to beat England to the finals. The central European team has some household name footballers on its side, but where did they come from?
Up until the mid-90s, Croatia was a part of Yugoslavia, a team that had relative success in the World Cup despite its size. In the inaugural competition, held in 1930 in Uruguay, Yugoslavia was invited and entered. The team was placed into a group with Brazil and Bolivia, and after winning both their matches, they advanced to the semi-finals. Here, they were defeated by the host nation, Uruguay, 6-1, and they finished in fourth place. Yugoslavia qualified for the World Cups of 1950, 1954, and 1962. In the 1950 World Cup, they were knocked out in the group stage, but in the 1954 and 1958 World Cups, they managed to reach the quarterfinals. In 1962, Yugoslavia entered the competition and were drawn into a group with Colombia, the Soviet Union, and Uruguay. Here, Yugoslavia took their revenge on Uruguay and beat them 3-1 in the group stage. After losing to the Soviet Union and beating Colombia, they finished second in the group and advanced to the quarterfinals. Yugoslavia beat Germany, and then went on to face Czechoslovakia, against whom they lost. In the third place playoffs, Yugoslavia faced Chile and were beaten 1-0, to clinch a second fourth place finish in the World Cup.
After qualifying for 4 consecutive World Cups, Yugoslavia then went into a downturn. The team would only qualify for 3 more World Cups until 1994, when it was banned from playing due to the ongoing civil war. In those 3 World Cups, the furthest the team would reach was the quarterfinals in the 1990 World Cup, when they beat Spain in the round of 16, but were finally knocked out by Argentina in the following round.
After the breakup of Yugoslavia, Croatia became a recognised football team in 1991. The team entered their first World Cup as an independent nation in 1998. Croatia was put into the same group as Argentina, Japan and Jamaica. The newly formed nation won 2 of their games to achieve a second place finish in the group, allowing them to advance to the knockout stage. Croatia faced Romania in the round of 16, and won their game 1-0 after key player Davor Suker scored late in the first half. In the quarterfinals, Croatia faced Germany. Whilst it looked like a case of David against Goliath, as the then 3 time World Cup winners played against the fresh faced debutante, Croatia managed to cause a huge upset beating the Germans 3-0. The side went to the semi-finals where they were within touching distance of their first World Cup finals. However, it was not meant to be. Croatia opened the score in the 46th minute, but France equalised a minute later. France then scored their second goal of the game in the 70th minute, and the game ended 2-1. In the third place playoff, Croatia played against the Netherlands, and Davor Suker scored one of the goals in the 2-1 win, and in doing so, secured the golden boot.
In the next two editions of the World Cup, in 2002 and 2006, Croatia qualified but failed to make it past the group stage. In 2010, they did not qualify, but the country was to bounce back in the following World Cup. In 2018, the World Cup was held in Russia, and Croatia qualified after coming second in their group and then beating Greece in the UEFA Second Round playoffs. Croatia were put into a group with Argentina, Iceland, and Nigeria. They did not struggle against any of their opponents, even beating Argentina 3-0. Topping the group, Croatia advanced to the round of 16, where they faced Denmark. Both teams scored early in the match: Denmark opened the scoring in the first minute of play, and Croatia equalised 3 minutes later. The game then went into a deadlock and neither team could score in the rest of regular time nor in the two periods of extra time. The game was decided in a tense penalty shootout. Croatia missed their first penalty, but so did Denmark. Both teams then scored their next two penalties, and missed a penalty after that. Rakitic took the fifth penalty for Croatia and scored, and then the Danish forward Jorgensen took his penalty but missed. With this, Croatia advanced to the next round. Here, they faced Russia, and the game was 1-1 at the end of regular time, and then 2-2 at the end of the added extra time. Going into penalties once more, Croatia took their spotkicks and scored 4 to Russia's 3, winning the game. Croatia then faced England in the semi-finals, and that game also went to extra time after it finished 1-1. In the 109th minute, Mandzukic scored a goal for Croatia, and the English could not equalise. This meant that Croatia would be heading to their first World Cup finals.
In the finals, they played against France, and despite putting up a heroic fight and scoring 2 goals, the game ended 4-2 to France. Croatia took home their runners up medals, and their captain Luka Modric was awarded the Golden Ball.
Croatia’s Qualification Route to the World Cup
In the 2022 World Cup qualifiers, Croatia were placed in a group with Cyprus, Malta, Slovakia, Slovenia, and Russia. They finished first in the group after winning 7 out of their 10 games, scoring an impressive 21 goals and only conceding 4. Playing as a team, 11 Croatian footballers scored in the qualifier matches, with Luka Modric, Mario Pasalic and Ivan Perisic all tying for top place with 3 goals each.
Croatia’s World Ranking – A Story of Ups and Downs
After their huge success at the 2018 World Cup, it was no surprise that the team came in 6th place in the World Rankings in 2020. They had a brilliant run in the UEFA qualifiers, but after being knocked out in round of 16 of the 2020 European Championship, Croatia dropped from 6th placed to 15th, where they currently sit.
Which Players are Available to Croatia?
The main goalkeeper for Croatia is Dominik Livakovic, who plays for Dinamo Zagreb in the domestic league.
In front of him, there are a number of defenders such as Domagoj Vida, Dejan Lovren, Sime Vrsaljko, and Borna Barisic. There are also a handful of younger defenders such as Marin Pongracic, Josip Stanisic, Borna Sosaand Josko Gvardiol, all of whom play in the German Bundesliga.
In midfield, the 36-year-old Luka Modric will captain the side. Alongside him, there are some top players such as Mateo Kovacic, Marcelo Brozovic, Mario Pasalic, and Nikola Vlasic.
The Croatian attack will be led by Andrej Kramaric, but there are some highly talented players such as Ivan Perisic, Bruno Petkovic, Mislav Orsic, and Josip Brekalo, who can all contribute by scoring goals.
How to Bet on Croatia at the World Cup
If you are looking for what type of bets you can place on Croatia in the World Cup, you have come to the right place. There are plenty of markets allowing you to bet on the Croatian team or on the performances of Croatian players. You may find markets where you can bet on which player will win the golden boot or golden ball in the World Cup, and you can find bets for the top players in Croatia.
Golden Boot Bet
The player at the end of the World Cup with the most goals to his name will be given the golden boot. If you are thinking to place it on a Croatian player, then this may be a tricky bet. When Mandzukic retired, Croatia did not really have a replacement for their key striker, although Andrej Kramaric and Ivan Perisic are trying to fill his shoes. Both are accomplished strikers who play at the top level in club football, although it may be difficult to pick as they may share goal scoring duties and thus neither would win the golden boot.
Golden Ball Bet
Luka Modric won the golden ball in 2018 for leading his side to a historic World Cup final. The award is given to the most influential player in the tournament. You may find bets on which player will win the golden ball in the 2022 World Cup and Modric will feature in the list, as he is still a key player for the team.
In addition to the player bets mentioned above, you may find even more bets on how Croatia will perform in the World Cup as a team. There may be bets such as Croatia to win the group stage, will they reach the semi-finals, will Croatia win the World Cup, and many more. You can also explore pregame bets, where you can find hundreds of markets for each individual game.