Croatia turn to youth for Euro glory

With a hidden depth of talent, Croatia are looking to spring a few upsets come June next year at the European Championships.

Familiar faces, familiar foes...

Croatia beat Turkey in style in the play-offs to qualify for the Euro 2012 next year

They were unlucky to miss out on the 2010 World Cup due to a heavy injury list, but the young nation will be looking to make the outing at Poland and Ukraine a fruitful one next summer.

Croatia

World ranking (as of November 2011): 12
Coach: Slaven Bilic

The national team was formed in 1992, which makes the team the youngest at the Euro 2012, but they are far from the weakest.

Croatia have risen to third in the FIFA rankings before thanks to their third-place finish in the 1998 World Cup, but have since dropped out the top 10 after missing out in the 2010 World Cup.

Manager Slaven Bilic, who is branded as a 'rockstar coach' for his chart-topping song (he is in a real band), is famous for studying and compiling information when going up against big teams.

The young manager is also willing to put his trust on young players to perform on the big stage when the situation arises.

Can they win it?

With many young upcoming talents in the national fold, Bilic will be spoilt for choice when it comes to selecting his squad to bring to Poland and Ukraine next summer.

In defence, Dejan Lovren, 22, and Sime Vrsaljko, 19, have been on form for their clubs, Lyon and Dinamo Zagreb, respectively and look likely to develop into world-class talents.

While in midfield, Ivan Rakitic, 23, and Ivan Perisic, 22, have already established their places in the national team.

Add to that the genius of Luka Modric, Croatia's midfield is one to look out for.

The Tottenham playmaker's ability to cut through the midfield and send the deadly final pass through to set up a goal is one that is too often seen with him on the pitch.

Up front, Mario Mandzukic is a deadly threat to any defence. Plying his trade at Wolfsburg, he plays regularly against German defenders and frequently come away tops with his clinical finishing.

Should the rockstar manager find the correct groove, Croatia will be one of the toughest teams to beat next year.

Best performance at European championships: Quarter-finals (1996 & 1998)



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