FIFA World Cup™ finals history
Croatia reached the semi-finals at their maiden FIFA World Cup in 1998, recording victories over Romania and Germany, among others, en route to the last four, where they were defeated 2-1 by hosts and eventual champions France. They even managed to beat the Netherlands to the bronze medal, winning 2-1 in the Play-off for Third Place. However, Croatia have not been able to repeat such feats at subsequent tournaments, and failed to progress beyond the group stage at Korea/Japan 2002, Germany 2006 and Brazil 2014, while they did not even qualify for South Africa 2010.

The team
Croatia may not have enjoyed much success recently, but they are still capable of competing with the world’s biggest teams. Experienced captain Darijo Srna is the figurehead of a side that relies on the creative talents of playmakers Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. Furthermore, national team coach Niko Kovac has several top-class players at his disposal in attack, including Ivan Perisic, Ivica Olic and Mario Mandzukic.

The coach
Kovac was appointed in October 2013 and led Croatia to Brazil 2014 after overcoming Iceland in the qualifying play-offs. Prior to that he was in charge of the reserves at RB Salzburg, where he later worked as first team assistant coach before being handed the reins of the Croatia U-21s. The former midfielder won the Bundesliga title, the German Cup and FIFA Club World Cup in his playing days and also featured at the 2002 and 2006 World Cups. He frequently played alongside his older brother Robert both at club level and on the international stage, and the siblings are now together at the helm of the national team.

The stat
7 – Croatia have an evenly balanced World Cup record, having won seven and lost seven of their 16 finals matches.

The former stars
Davor Suker, Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinecki, Dario Simic, Niko Kovac, Robert Kovac