Drawn into Group F, Croatia will see Belgium as their main challenger for group dominance, with progression to the Round of 16 all but guaranteed ahead of Canada and Morocco at the bottom of the group.
But 2018 runners-up should be wary of complacency, especially when they face Canada, which ranks significantly lower in the FIFA rankings but is in the enviable position of having the team is defined by its youth and rising glory.
By contrast, Croatia may find the timing of this first Winter World Cup unfortunate, with a number of finalists in Russia now in their 30s and 35s. The aging of the team can be seen as one of the reasons why head coach Zlatko Dalic’s team lost momentum after the last World Cup, performing poorly in both the 2020 Nations League campaign and the 2021 European Championship.
Since Dalić has integrated debutants into the Croatian squad, his line-up includes, among others, Josip Stanisic, who plays at club level for Bayern Munich, and Eintrakt Frankfurt’s Kristian Jakić throughout qualifying and in the June Nations League fixtures . After a shaky start to the qualifying campaign, Croatia topped their group ahead of Slovakia, Slovenia, Cyprus, Malta and runner-up Russia, who were later eliminated from the tournament.
After a successful campaign in the Nations League, the Croats have one more game to play – a friendly against Saudi Arabia on November 16 – before the World Cup kicks off against Morocco 17 days later.
Croatia squad for the 2022 World Cup
The World Cup squads are usually officially announced about six weeks before the start of the World Cup. This year the World Cup will be held from November 21 to December 18.
Who is likely to be the star name on the team?
With a team of world-class players such as Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic, Inter Milan’s Marcelo Brozovic and Tottenham’s Ivan Perisic, Luka Modric remains the brightest player in the sky. Midfield Alchemy Master and Champions League title holder with Real Madrid, Modrić is the most capped player in his country with 152 caps and also a mascot figure in Croatian football.
What matches do Croatia have?
Croatia will play in Group F against Morocco, Belgium and Canada.
All times GMT
November 23: Morocco – Croatia, Al Bayt Stadium, 10:00 (GMT)
November 27: Croatia – Canada, Khalifa International Stadium, 16:00.
December 1: Croatia – Belgium, stadium “Al Rayyan”, 15:00.
What is Croatia’s World Cup record?
Croatia has qualified for all but one World Cup tournament held since independence in 2010, and their performances are marked by their outstanding results: third place in France in 1998, making them the highest-scoring debutant since Portugal Eusebio in 1966, and second place in Russia 2018.
Modrić was awarded the Ballon d’Or as the tournament’s best player overall, and his performance in Russia contributed to his Ballon d’Or win later that year.
Croatia is currently 50/1 to win the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
The main contenders…
The information is current as of September 28.