Stipe Pletikosa: Injury withstanding, he has no competition for his starting place especially after Vedran Runje’s fall from grace.
Vedran Ćorluka: Darijo Srna would be the No. 1 right-back in the squad, but he’s also the best Croatian winger. So Srna is likely to play in midfield, allowing Ćorluka to play at right-back. Will youngster Šime Vrsaljko make the final squad?
Josip Šimunić: In terms of experience and performance for the team, he is the best defender, but if Croatia is humiliated at Euro 2012 like Serbia and Montenegro was at the 2006 FIFA World Cup, it could spell a changing of the guard.
Dejan Lovren: I rate him a better defender than Gordon Schildenfeld. Domagoj Vida has an outside shot of starting at centre-back, but he has played at full-back in recent times for Croatia.
Ivan Strinić: Vida played one game at left-back against Turkey (and another at right-back) but he isn’t better than Strinić because he is a centre-back. Strinić should start, but if he doesn’t and Vida doesn’t, Danijel Pranjić would be the likely starter.
Ognjen Vukojević: A strong bustling enforcer in midfield. Tomislav Dujmović could be another option.
Luka Modrić: If he is injured, then Croatia has no hope of qualifying out of the group.
Darijo Srna: One of the most underrated players in world football. I don’t watch him every week, but when I do watch him, he’s generally the best player, or one of the best players, on the field.
Ivan Rakitić: Left wing is the major issue for Croatia because there is no undisputed starter. I’d play Rakitić, even though he plays centrally for Sevilla, because he’s such a classy operator. If Ivan PeriŠić was playing more game time for Borussia Dortmund, he’d probably be the left winger, but he’s just a sub for Die Borussen.
Ivica Olić: It’s either him or Eduardo, who hasn’t been the same since that broken leg. I’d prefer Olić because he’ll hustle and chase down opposing defenders.
Mario Mandžukić: Easily the best Croatian forward in the world right now. However, he has had issues performing against stronger teams, as Felix Magath has found out for Wolfsburg.