Mavericks on a debut mission: Croatia

1 Drazen Ladic Croatia Zagreb

Has appeared in 22 of the 25 matches Croatia have played since independence (Age 33, 22 caps).

2 Nikola Jurcevic Freiburg

Long-haired full-back who started as a forward. Agile and very quick, tough tackler (28, 13).

3 Robert Jarni Real Betis

Reliable left-back, before going to Spain he spent three seasons in Italy with Bari, Torino and Juventus (27, 19).

4 Igor Stimac Derby County

Good tackler, strong in air, dangerous on the break. A cult figure at the Baseball Ground (28, 16).

5 Nikola Jerkan Real Oviedo

The tallest man in the team, can play either on the right of defence or in the middle (32, 20).

6 Slaven Bilic West Ham

Not the most skilful defender but a good tackler who never gives up. A favourite at West Ham. (27, 20).

7 Aljosa Asanovic Derby County

Old-fashioned inside-left who has just joined the Rams from Hajduk Split. Also played in France and Spain (30, 18).

8 Robert Prosinecki Barcelona

Experienced midfield general. His father is a Croat, his mother is a Serb. Has a lion tattoo on right leg (25, 6).

9 Davor Suker Real Madrid

Just joined Real from Seville, one of the most accomplished strikers in Europe. A goal a game man (28, 18).

10 Zvonimir Boban Milan

Croatian captain, a balanced, skilful midfielder able to subordinate individual flair for the good of the team (28, 16).

11 Alen Boksic Juventus

Striker who rose to prominence with Marseille, moved on to Lazio and now Juventus (26, 12).

12 Marijan Mrmic Varteks Varazdin

Competent goalkeeper who has made the squad depite playing for unheralded provincial club (30, 4).

13 Mario Stanic Club Bruges

Bosnian-born Croat who likes to play as a deep-lying forward behind the strikers (23, 7).

14 Zvonimir Soldo Croatia Zagreb

Solid and reliable defender with Croatia (formerly Dinamo) Zagreb. The understudy to Jerkan (28, 10).

15 Dubravko Pavlicic Hercules Alicante

Reserve defender who was in the Yugoslav side that won the World Youth Cup in Chile in 1987 (28, 16).

16 Mladen Mladenovic Gamba Osaka

Short, stocky midfielder with strong right-foot shot. Has played in Spain, Austria and now Japan (32, 16).

17 Igor Pamic Osijek

Shaven-headed striker who owes place in squad to Mornar's fall from grace on eve of tournament (24, 16).

18 Elvis Brajkovic 1860 Munich

Tall, promising defender, originally with Rijeka, well-built but thankfully not as fat as his namesake (26, 6).

19 Goran Vlaovic Padova

Diminutive striker who is competing with Boksic for the slot as second forward alongside Suker (23, 7).

20 Dario Simic Croatia Zagreb

Young defender who is coming along for the experience and is not expected to make the team (20, 1).

21 Igor Cvitanovic Croatia Zagreb

Centre-forward who is unlikely to get a game unless Boksic and Suker are injured (26, 10).

22 Tonci Gabric Hajduk Split

Veteran goalkeeper who is still one of the best in the domestic league, great reflexes (35, 7).

The team

Having confirmed their class by winning in Italy en route to England, Croatia will not be taken lightly on their debut in an international tournament. "We are the best team in Europe. It only remains for us to confirm it," says coach Blazevic, who may not always find it easy to make a team out of mavericks like Boban, Prosinecki, Asanovic and Suker.

The coach

Born in Bosnia, Miroslav Blazevic played for clubs in Yugoslavia and Switzerland, where he launched his coaching career, which has also taken him to Greece and France. Had a spell in charge of the Swiss national team, and was briefly held in prison last year after being linked with the Marseille bribery scandal. He was released without charge.

The fact file

Previous appearances in finals: None (no previous participation).

Qualifying record: W7, D2, L1 (Group Four winners).

Top scorer in qualifiers: 12 Suker.

Most appearances in qualifiers: 10 Suker.

Population 4.6m. Registered clubs 1,579. Registered players 78,000. Professional players 600.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker