Home » Sport » Croatia at Euro 2024: Key factors, players and expectations

Croatia at Euro 2024: Key factors, players and expectations

croatian fan at euro

Can Croatia go all the way?

By Ante Vulić

Croatia will open their Euro 2024 campaign on Saturday against Spain. After a run of good form, expectations from Croatian fans are understandably high.

As is his usual style, Coach Zlatko Dalić has shrewdly played down these expectations, preferring to keep his side grounded.

He has emphasised that qualifying for the tournament was already a significant achievement for the small nation. Dalić’s approach is to avoid adding unnecessary pressure on his team, reiterating that they will do their best and take it one game at a time.

Croatia coach Zlatko Dalić  celebrating

Zlatko Dalić

The 57-year-old tactician, however, will be quietly confident as he heads into the tournament. His team won the FIFA Series tournament in Egypt in March and looked impressive in their 2-1 win against Portugal at the weekend.

Most pundits are not giving Croatia much of a chance to win the tournament, but that underdog tag may again work in their favour.

Croatia’s Form and Chances

Croatia will draw confidence from back-to-back victories in their recent matches against North Macedonia and Portugal, whom they had never beaten before. Against Portugal, Croatia looked very well organised and dangerous across the park and the win no doubt gave the side needed confidence.

Additionally, their triumph in the FIFA Series tournament in Egypt, a third-place finish in Qatar, and being runners-up to Spain in the UEFA Nations League further bolster their morale.

Croatia only lost two matches in their Euro qualifying campaign.

The positive form of several players is also encouraging.

Captain Luka Modrić, part of the Champions League-winning Real Madrid side, played a crucial role despite fewer minutes this season.

Joško Gvardiol and Mateo Kovačić contributed to Manchester City’s English Premier League victory, while Andrej Kramarić and Ante Budimir were in goal-scoring form for their clubs.

Mario Pašalić and Josip Stanišić played significant roles in their clubs’ run to the Europa League final, and Lovro Majer has been impressive as well.

Key Players

Dalić has a squad capable of defeating any team at Euro 2024. As in recent major tournaments, Modrić remains vital to Croatia’s success. The team’s tactics revolve around him, and his leadership and on-field example are crucial.

Another key player will be Gvardiol. After a fantastic season, his role as a left wing-back in Germany will provide Croatia with more attacking options down the left. He is a formidable player who can both defend and push forward effectively.

Lovro Majer and Mateo Kovačić will also be essential, as will goalkeeper Dominik Livaković.

Scoring goals has been a challenge, but with a more attacking strategy, Ante Budimir and Kramarić need to be effective.

Key Factors

One crucial factor will be how Croatia starts the tournament. Unity, passion, support from fans and media, staying injury-free, and a bit of luck were key to their success in Russia and Qatar.

A strong start is vital; if Croatia falters early, it will be harder to regain momentum. Therefore, the first match is indeed crucial. Progressing from the group stage is the initial goal, followed by taking it one step at a time.


An estimated 100,000 Croatians are expected to attend the opening game in Berlin, with around 50,000 getting in to watch.

With so many passionate Croatians in Germany who will no doubt create an amazing atmosphere, it will feel like home games for Croatia.

Croatian fans to give Croatia big boost in final against Spain

Euro 2024 to feel like a home tournament for Croatia

Croatian fans sought 2 million tickets for the tournament, showing their immense support, which will be an advantage for the team.


Bookmakers are not giving Croatia a strong chance of winning the title, with France, England, Portugal, Spain, and Germany being the main favourites.

Croatia is currently the 8th favourite to win Euro 2024.

However, bookmakers were also sceptical in 2018 and 2022 when Croatia exceeded expectations.

If Croatia can advance from the group stage injury-free and draw on their unity and passion, they have the potential to surprise once again. In a one-off match, Croatia can pose a challenge to any side in Germany – they just need a few things to go their way.

Probable starting XI: Livaković – Stanišić -Šutalo – Pongračić – Gvardiol – Brozović – Modrić – Kovačić – Majer -Kramarić – Budimir

Croatia’s Euro 2024 schedule: (CET time)

15 June
Spain vs Croatia (Berlin, 18:00)

19 June
Croatia vs Albania (Hamburg, 15:00)

24 June
Croatia vs Italy (Leipzig, 21:00)


Sign up to receive the Croatia Week Newsletter

Related Posts