I hope you all have heard about Croatia. Well, Croatia is a country in Central Europe and Southeastern Europe. The Croatian population is estimated to be 4.5 million people. The capital city is Zagreb. Also in this city is the most successful Croatian club Dinamo Zagreb, who gave most of the national team players such as - Niko Kranjcar, Eduardo Da Silva, Vedran Corluka,Mario Mandzukic,Milan Badelj,Dejan Lovren and many more.
Croatia's first appearance on football stage was in Euro 1996 which was held in England. Croatia was in group D together with Portugal,Turkey and Denmark. We managed to place second (1. Portugal) in this group after two wins against Denmark and Turkey and one lost against Portugal. In quarter finals we lost to later champion, Germany.
In World Cup 1998 which was held in France, brought Croatia so much happiness. We were in the group H with Argentina,Japan and Jamaica. Pretty interesting how this was the first appearance to all of this nations except Argentina. Argentina won this group easily with 3 wins while Croatia managed to beat Jamaica and Japan.
In the round of 16 we got Romania. I still remember it was a tough game and we managed to beat them 1-0. In the quarter finals revenge was on our mind because we got Germany. We completely destroyed the German machine with an amazing result, 3-0. The Semi finals brought us the host team, France. Croatia scored first but an amazing game by Lillian Thuram who scored two goals and these goals were his only ones for the national team! France also had one player down after Blanc got red carded, but they managed to beat us. In the game for 3th place we had a battle against Holland and we won the game with result, 2-1. Our best player was Davor Suker who scored 6 goals and won the golden boot.
I was only 8 years old but this part of my life was just amazing! This national team was actually a reason why I started to play and watch football.
Later on, Croatia failed to qualify for Euro 2000 ( Belgium-Holland). But we came back in the world cup which was held for the first time on Asian continent (Japan-South Korea). We were drawn in the group G together with Ecuador,Italy and Mexico but we failed to advance from the group even after we beat Italy, 2-1. We lost to Mexico and Ecuador with the same result which was 1-0. This was the last time you were able to see Croatian football legends like: Davor Suker,Robert Prosinecki,Goran Vlaovic,Zvonimir Soldo,Robert Jarni,Mario Stanic and Alen Boksic.
Euro 2004 brought us a pretty hard group with England,France and Switzerland. We opened the tournament with a really bad goalless draw against Switzerland and another draw came against France, 2-2. We suffered a bad loss against England, 4-2. We ended up in third placed and we failed to advance to the quarter finals.
The World Cup 2006 in Germany gave us decent group with Australia,Brazil and Japan and it was expected for us to progress to second round. First we lost 1-0 to Brazil with an amazing Kaka goal. Next game we had a goalless draw with Japan with a missed penalty by Darijo Srna. Last game we had to win but we had another draw, this time against Australia 2-2. I have to say that we had the lead two times but that didn't help us.
Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland was a very good result by Croatia. First we managed to beat one England in qualifying for Euro 2008. At Wembley they needed a draw but we won that amazing game with the result, 3-2 and one big football nation failed to qualify in such a big tournament! In Euro we had all 3 wins against host Austria(1-0), Germany(2-1) and Poland(1-0).
We showed great football and everybody expected Croatia in finals. But in quarter finals a miracle happened. Croatian striker Ivan Klasnic scored a goal in second overtime (119min) and everybody started to celebrate but Semih said it's not over. He scored a goal in 120+2min and brought us to penalties. Croatia, who was probably thinking that this can't be happening, they lost the penalties easily, 3-1. This was one of the most dramatic games ever in our football world. Also we missed our best striker, Eduardo Da Silva the Croatian Brazilian who suffered one of the worst injuries you have ever seen. He was one of the reasons we were even in this Euro.
Qualifying for World Cup 2010 brought us again big England and Ukraine. We were still thinking how big we are after those two wins in qualifying for Euro 2008. Our arrogance was the reason why England really I have to say, destroyed us easily. We still had our chances to place second but we failed to beat Ukraine two times and we only could draw against them. Once again our arrogance was the reason we failed to qualify for World Cup 2010 in South Africa.
Now....after we learned our big lesson we are ready to qualify for Euro 2012 which we'll be held for the first time in Eastern part of Europe(Poland-Ukraine). My opinion is that we got a pretty easy group but I have to say that we need to start talking on the field not outside of the field! Croatia is in the group F, together with Greece,Israel,Latvia,Georgia and Malta.
Greece - they are for sure our biggest opponent. They are know as a team that plays really good defensive football. Also they appointed a new coach that is ready to change some things. We can't forget that they won Euro 2004 in Portugal. We play against them Semptember 7th and we just need to win if we want to the next Euro. Once agan, my Croatians, we need to be very careful with Greece!
Israel - this is really talented team that can really do a lot of damages to Croatia and Greece. Their biggest star is Benayoung who just signed for Chelsea. Yossi and his company can really harm anybody! We need to be very careful on this guys. But we beat them two times in qualifying for Euro 2008. I still remember the game in Israel when we won 4-3 with 3 goals from amazing Eduardo!
Latvia - can cause possible threat but there shound't be any problems with them.
Georgia - same as Latvia. Maybe even more dangerous than Latvia.
Malta - total outsider and almost every team should win easy 3 points here.
But again, we need to be 100% careful with everybody in this group because if we lost any points it can be very badly for us!
Croatian national football is ready to come back in Euro 2012. I am very optimistic about winning the group and only miracle can happen if we don't. We have very good players like:
Luka Modric - a great midfielder that connects everything on the field. Had a good season with Tottenham and now is ready for champions league challenge.
Eduardo - just completed his move to Shakhtar Donetsk which we'll give him more playing time. He is a goal machine and I can't wait for him to help us like he used to with he's amazing goals and dead finishing!
Niko Kranjcar - wonderful technician that can do a lot of things! He is a great shooter and he is going to be dangerous for every opponent! Also like Modric is ready to for CL challenge.
Darijo Srna - our great captain is hungry and can't wait for this games to start. He is doing a great job in Shakhtar Donetsk. He is even considered to be one of the best defenders right back.
Vedran Corluka - awesome defender that knows to go up top many times and cause real danger for opponent. He will also try to get to CL group together with his friends, Kranjcar and Modric.
Ivica Olic - the guy that can run like a beast! This guy proved to everybody that you can do everything if you work enough! He brought his Bayern Munchen to the finals in champions league. He is one of a kind!
There is a lot of great players in our team but I just wanted to say key players.
That is all from me for now and I just hope I am right, that we are going to qualify on Euro 2012 but we NEED to be very CAREFUL with everybody!