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CROATIAN TEAM

World Cup Homepage | View Group Tables | Week 1 | Week 2



 
Goalkeepers

1-Stipe Pletikosa (Hajduk Split) Born: 8.1.79

Although still young, Pletikosa is the country's hottest goalkeeper at the moment and has been a regular starter since Drazen Ladic retired in 2000. Despite being 1.92-metre tall he is a better shot-stopper than collecter of crosses and can look vulnerable coming for high balls. Planned transfer to Marseille fell through in summer 2000.

12-Tomislav Butina (Dinamo Zagreb) Born: 30.3.74
Became first choice at Dinamo after a long spell as understudy and quickly became a serious contender for Croatia's number one spot, though likely to be Pletikosa's back-up.

23-Vladimir Vasilj (NZ Zagreb) Born: 6.7.75
Moved to Zagreb after losing patience with being on Dinamo's bench behind Butina. Has shown consistent form this season after some erratic performances in previous years.

Defenders

20-Dario Simic (Inter Milan) Born: 12.11.75

Another defender whose talent was given the finishing touch in Italy. Tactically mature, he tackles with the tenacity of the bulldogs he used to breed. Has good control and, if given space, can break dangerously to support the forwards.

21-Robert Kovac (Bayern Munich) Born: 6.4.74
Younger brother of Croatia midfielder Niko. Persistent and hard to beat, he has become a perfect partner for Dario Simic in defence. Married a former beauty queen.

6-Boris Zivkovic (Bayer Leverkusen) Born: 15.11.75
Has recently become a first choice at the back. A quick and versatile player who is more at ease in defence than attack. Can play on either side of the defence and down the right flank,
though that is not his natural position.

3-Josip Simunic (Hertha Berlin) Born: 18.2.78.
Another towering defender who is cool under pressure. At 1.95 metres, he has strength, pace, self-confidence and good technique, but is unlikely to be a starter.

17-Robert Jarni (Panathinaikos) Born: 26.10.68
Pacey defender, took over as captain when Zvonimir Boban retired. Although his play seems less ambitious now, his trademark breaks down the left and deadly crosses are as dangerous as ever.

15-Anthony Seric (Verona) Born: 15.01.79
Born in Sydney, Australia but first made his name at Hajduk Split. After only 37 league appearances there over three seasons, Verona took a chance on his potential in 1999. Often looked upon as the best candidate to inherit Jarni's place on the left flank. Skilful but less attack-minded.

2-Daniel Saric (Panathinaikos) Born: 4.8.72
Has good technique and a powerful shot. His pace and strong right foot have made him an option down the right but his crosses leave much to be desired. Had a three-year spell in Spain with Sporting Gijon between 1993 and 1996.

Midfielders

4-Stjepan Tomas (Vicenza) Born: 6.3.76

Another defensive central midfielder who breaks down the opponent's game. His lack of mobility is offset by endurance, strength and uncompromising tackles. Helps out the defence and brings wide players into the game without venturing into attacking positions too often.

8-Robert Prosinecki (Portsmouth) Born: 12.11.69
Inspirational playmaker, albeit slower than in his prime and injury prone, but can still dribble past players with ease. Sometimes keeps the ball too long, but his long passes are still perfect as is his control of the team's tempo. He quit the side after the 1998 World Cup but came back to help out two years later and immediately imposed himself again as their driving force in midfield.

10-Niko Kovac (Bayern Munich) Born: 15.10.71
If Prosinecki is an artist, the elder of the Kovac brothers is a hard-working mule. Brought a touch of Bundesliga stamina to the Croatian game with his willingness to graft and be creative without neglecting his defensive duties. A likely starter if fully fit.

7-Davor Vugrinec (Lecce) Born: 24.3.75
At one point seemed to have secured a first team place with a role behind the strikers. Has pace, skill and an eye for goal, but sometimes seems to lack motivation. Attack-minded, but less impressive in his defensive tasks.

5-Milan Rapaic (Fenerbahce) Born: 16.8.73.
Has pace, superb control and provides deadly crosses from the left. Creates his own chances, rather than waiting for the perfect pass, which makes him an ideal trump card when the team
is chasing the game.

13-Mario Stanic (Chelsea) Born: 10.4.72
Versatile right-winger who has spent his whole career being switched from attack to midfield and from the right to the middle. Strong and agile both in attack and at the back. A strong header of the ball, he often gets into scoring positions and has a deft scoring touch.

16-Jurica Vranjes (Bayer Leverkusen) Born: 31.01.80
Can play in almost any position at the back and in midfield, where his excellent passing comes to the fore, but unlikely starter if all first choices are fit.

14-Zvonimir Soldo (VfB Stuttgart) Born: 2.11.67
Type of player liked by coaches but much less by the fans. Defensive midfielder whose main task is to stop opponents from playing. Rarely grabs the spotlight or makes a memorable pass, but is reliable, useful and dangerous at set pieces.

Forwards

11-Alen Boksic (Middlesbrough) Born: 21.1.70 10.

Has long lived in shadow of Davor Suker and numerous injuries, which kept him out of Euro 96 and the 1998 World Cup. But his goals were crucial in getting Croatia to France 98 and Korea and Japan 2002. Tall, strong, fast and difficult to mark, he is Croatia's attacking trump card.

9-Davor Suker (TSV 1860 Munich) Born: 1.1.68
Croatia's top scorer and the squad's dominant player for a decade. Top scorer at France 98 with six goals. Recently joined 1860 Munich after spells with Arsenal and West Ham in London during which time his fitness and scoring touch have faded somewhat. Seems to be back in form, though, but now more likely to play in midfield than attack.

22-Bosko Balaban (Aston Villa) Born: 15.10.78
Representative of the new generation who shot to stardom and back within two years. A disappointing season with Aston Villa has left him out in the cold, but was Croatia's top scorer in the World Cup qualifiers with six goals in 12 games.

19-Goran Vlaovic (Panathinaikos) Born: 7.8.72
Another striker who lived in Suker's shadow. His career has been through its ups and downs, although he is Croatia's second top scorer with 15 goals. Exploded in front of goal this winter in Greek championship, scoring five times in one game.

18-Ivica Olic (NK Zagreb) Born: 14.9.79
Top scorer for leading club in Croatia's national league, Olic could not be overlooked. Fast, agile and skilful with an eye for goal.