Euro 2016 Team Guide: Croatia need big guns to fire for success

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Time is running out on their so-called 'golden generation' to succeed on the international stage, but this summer's tournament in France offers one last chance of glory

Coach: Ante Cacic

Key player: Luka Modric

Qualifying form: W6, L1, D3

Top scorers in qualifying: Ivan Perisic (6), Marcelo Brozovic, Andrej Kramaric, Luka Modric (all 2)

Croatia's high-profile stars are running out of time to write their names into the history books, and Euro 2016 success appears too big a task.

Despite a one-point deduction in qualifying due to a racist gesture, Croatia still booked their place in France relatively comfortably.

They progressed as runners-up in their pool behind Italy even with that penalty and a coaching change, with Ante Cacic the unpopular choice to replace the sacked Niko Kovac in September.

Drawn with Spain, Czech Republic and Turkey in Group D for the finals, this looks set to be one of the last chances for Luka Modric (30), Ivan Rakitic (28), Mario Mandzukic (30), Ivan Perisic (27) and captain Darijo Srna (34) to win a major trophy.

Croatia last progressed beyond the group stage at a major tournament at Euro 2008, but at his disposal, Cacic has a squad of players based at some of Europe's biggest clubs.

The challenge of creating a fluid unit remains, however.

Croatia's defence is a concern, despite the presence of goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and Srna, although they were one of the meanest teams in qualifying.

Dejan Lovren's form and injuries at Liverpool saw him feature in just one qualifier. The centre-back was excluded from the international set-up after making demands over his place in the starting line-up and will not be on the plane to France, with Vedran Corluka and Domagoj Vida preferred.

It is a back four that could be breached by world-class opponents. Whether they can get the desired protection from a talent-packed midfield may be crucial.

The middle of the park is what makes Croatia a potentially daunting proposition. Combine Real Madrid's Modric and Barcelona's under-appreciated Rakitic and there is a genuine threat.

Getting the right mix has been a problem in the past, but the development of Marcelo Brozovic, on loan at Inter in 2015-16, has helped.

Brozovic's club-mate Perisic was his nation's leading goalscorer in qualifying and more goals from him will likely be needed, particularly after the international retirement of veteran forward Ivica Olic.

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Add in the fact that Croatia's strikers failed to make an impact in qualifying - Juventus' Mandzukic managed just one goal in 706 minutes - and the reliance on midfield goals is set to be massive.

Unsurprisingly, it is Rakitic and, in particular, Modric who hold the key to Croatia's success and much will depend on their form and creativeness in France, with the Madrid man crucial to making his nation tick.

The problems are clear and, unless Cacic can find speedy solutions, Croatia's chances of success appear unlikely.

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