Ex-player, Niko Kovac, has a tough task at hand being the most inexperienced head coach at the World Cup and the second youngest. But he possess youthful exuberance that has fans excited and this is reflected in his squad as well.
Croatia announced their final 23 man World Cup squad for Brazil, cutting short the list of 30 individuals initially named. The biggest names that won’t make the trip to the South American nation are QPR’s Niko Kranjcar who helped his side into the Premier League, and Hamburg’s Milan Baldelj who just about helped his side remain in the Bundesliga. Kranjcar was actually the third most capped player in the list of 30, but fails to make the final 23. Both these players miss out unfortunately through injury.
Other exclusions include Dnipro’s Ivan Strinic, Hamburg’s Ivo Ilicevic & Dinamo Zagreb’s Duje Cop. Younsters Igor Bubnjic of Udinese and 19-yr-old Mario Pasalic of Hajduk Split also won’t travel for the tournament.
But Talent Radar remains happy as six youngsters have made the final squad. Of them, no doubt Mateo Kovacic remains the most exciting prospect and likely to feature. The Inter Milan midfielders was also named in our list of 100 Best Young Players to watch-out for in 2014. Sime Vrsaljko is another exciting player who has been named in the squad, but the 22-yr-old Genoa man is unlikely to play at right-back with captain Dario Srna taking that role. Fiorentina’s 20-yr-old Ante Rebic is one for the future, but getting into that attacking line-up is unlikely with more established and experienced names looking to lead the line. Oliver Zelenika who played a couple of first-team games for Dinamo Zagreb before being loaned out will be the third choice keeper, he too made our list of 100 Best Young Players to watch-out for in 2014 in the Goalkeepers category. Marcelo Brozovic & Ivan Mocinic are the other two youngsters who have been included in the squad, and admittedly our knowledge on them isn’t much yet.
Here’s the full Croatia World Cup squad:
GOALKEEPERS: Stipe Pletikosa (Rostov), Danijel Subasic (Monaco), Oliver Zelenika (Lokomotiva Zagreb)
DEFENDERS: Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk), Domagoj Vida (Dynamo Kiev), Sime Vrsaljko (Genoa), Danijel Pranjic (Panathinaikos), Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow), Dejan Lovren (Southampton), Gordon Schindelfeld (Panathinaikos)
MIDFIELDERS: Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla), Mateo Kovacic (Inter Milan), Marcelo Brozovic (Dinamo Zagreb), Ognjen Vukojevic (Dynamo Kiev), Ivan Mocinic (Rijeka), Sammir (Getafe)
FORWARDS: Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich), Nikica Jelavic (Hull City), Ivica Olic (VfL Wolfsburg), Eduardo Da Silva (Shakhtar Donetsk), Ivan Perisic (VfL Wolfsburg), Ante Rebic (Fiorentina)