2008 Croatia Euro Soccer Preview
by Doc's Sports - 04/29/2008
It's no secret Group B is all about Germany. The heavy group favorites might very well sit atop the table a week, but it'd be silly not to strongly consider this rising Croatia team. The Vatreni were Group E winners in qualifying, five points clear of Russia in second place.
Having failed to advance past round one in both Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup, this summer's tournament appears to be the likeliest of chances for Croatia to pull through and establish themselves as a legit European soccer threat.
During Euro 2008 qualifying, Croatia was a part of the most attention grabbing victory of last year's process. In November 2007, England hosted Croatia in Wembley Stadium, London, needing just a draw to advance and leave Russia out. With the match even a 2-2 late in the second half, a 77 minute strike by Mladen Petric sealed the fate of the home side and sent Croatia into a glorious wave of success with the victory clinching first place in the section.
Golden Player Watch - Niko Kovac/Darijo Srna, M\
This midfield partnership will go a long way in determining the success Croatia have in this year's European Championships. Kovac is the team's captain, a 36-year-old sage who has earned 75 caps and scored 12 goals for his country. Srna, only 25, is his apprentice. Having already appeared in 54 international matches and scored 15 goals and in his prime, his is rapidly becoming one of Croatia's best and most recognizable footballers.
As a whole, Croatia is a very experienced side. They have 12 players on the current roster that have at least 20 caps. Add this to the fact that this group has players spread out playing club football in eleven different countries, and it's clear that Croatia is well on their way to establishing themselves throughout Europe on every stage possible.
Reason Why They Will Advance to Elimination Round
With Austria and Poland amongst the foursome in Group B, Croatia has a very good chance to move forward into the elimination round this summer. Of course, if they drop their game with the Germans, there can be no further slip-ups if they look to progress past the initial three matches.
Croatia has been on this stage numerous times, and with the depth and balance of veteran players and skillful attackers, they'll find two wins from their group schedule and earn a spot in the final eight.
Group Play Schedule
Croatia vs. Austria - June 8
Croatia vs. Germany - June 12
Croatia vs. Poland - June 16