Croatia National Football Team
While they may not be the first name that pops into my head when you think of the great footballing side, it’s impossible to deny the quality that’s shined through the Croatian national team over the past 15 years.
The team has repeatedly punched above its small population and proven to be one of the most consistent modern European national sides.
Want to see how The Croatia National Football Team will do in the Qatar 2022 World Cup? Click the links below to bet on your favourite World Cup matches!
Wednesday November 23 – Morocco vs Croatia (Al Bayt Stadium, Al Khor; kick-off 11am).
Sunday November 27 -: Croatia vs Canada (Khalifa International Stadium, Al Rayyan; kick-off 5pm).
Thursday December 1 – Croatia vs Belgium (Ahmed bin Ali Stadium, Al Rayyan; kick-off 4pm).
Croatia National Football Gaining Independence
The Croatia National football team’s history is relatively short due to the fact that the modern iteration of the country came into being in 1991. Various Yugoslavian sides were the outlet for Croatian players throughout most of the 20th century, but unofficial Croatian teams did play at times. The nation was also intermittently represented during internal Yugoslavian football tournaments.
The Croatia National Football team spent no time getting the house in order once gaining independence. In fact, even before the political side of things was officially wrapped up, the football team had started playing its first official games.
The country gained admission to FIFA for the second time in 1992 and set off on an international exhibition tour not long after. The year after, Croatia’s membership in UEFA was also confirmed, and although it was done too late for the 1994 World Cup to be a possibility, it meant the team could now start seriously looking at participating in future major tournaments.
Starting to Get Competitive
In 1994, Croatia earned their first victory in a competitive match after beating Estonia 2-0 as part of the qualification campaign for Euro 1996. They ultimately finished at the top of their qualifying group and rapidly ascended from the 125th place assigned to them in the FIFA rankings when they initially rejoined.
Croatia took its first major tournament in its stride, battling its way to the quarter-finals, where they were outplayed by Germany. However, they did beat the reigning champions, Denmark, 3-0 on the way.
It wouldn’t take long for the small nation to get their revenge, though, and the two faced off again in the 1998 quarter-finals. This time the score was reversed in a shock result, and Croatia catapulted themselves to their first-ever World Cup semi-final. Here they were beaten by eventual champions France, but the third-place medal they took home showed fans the team meant business.
Croatia’s team made a habit of beating more well-established and longer-running teams. The side became a rival to England in many of that country’s fans’ eyes after beating them out in the running for qualification to Euro 2008.
The team, still less than 20 years old, had managed to break into the top 10 of the FIFA world rankings and other sides had no option but to take them seriously.
In the 2010s, a golden generation of Croatian players developed. This side, containing European superstars such as Ivan Rakitic, Luka Modric, and Ivan Perisic, earned the team their best-ever result in a major tournament when they reached the final of the 2018 World Cup, where they were beaten 4-2 by France.
The Croatia National Football team goes into the Qatar 2022 World Cup as a genuine contender.
Croatia National Football Team Trivia
- The man who designed Croatia’s national flag, banknotes, and coat of arms is also responsible for the football team’s modern kit design. The red and white panels are a distinct look that sets the country apart from its opponents.
- There’s no surprise that Luke Modric is the country’s most capped player ever. The Real Madrid playmaker has won five Champions Leagues, three La Ligas, and four Club World Cups. A major trophy with his country would arguably put his trophy haul above any other player in history.