Croatia - The Team with a Checkered Past
For a quick run-through of how we're scoring the teams, please have a gander at our criteria here.
Only two players in Croatia's World Cup squad, Dominik Livaković and Filip Bradarić, ply their trade in their homeland. While this shows that the squad's talent level is such that its players are wanted by some of Europe's top teams, the Croatian league has done little to nurture and cultivate this talent themselves.
The fact that these two fellas share a combined four caps probably suggests that they won't be featuring too prominently in Croatia's tournament. Or maybe they will; I don't know - I have literally done zero research for this article.
It would be surprising if the team knew each other's names.
Design & Branding
Croatia has stood out in footballing fashion terms. After Croatian independence in 1990, it was decided that the players would take to the field wearing red and white table cloths. I'm not sure what significance the table cloth has to Croatian national identity, but what can't be argued is that it's nothing less than striking.
New for this year, Nike - the Croatia kit manufacturer- has decided to introduce an interesting new element to the iconic kit design - a slightly-nauseating blur effect between the shirt's coloured squares. Not only does this effect add a heretofore unseen football fashion statement, but it also provides a functional purpose by confusing opposing the opposition that they are, in fact, playing against a team whose kit hasn't yet been fully downloaded. A crucial advantage on the psychological battlefield.
This kit is simple, bold, blurry, and unmistakebly Croatian. Hats off to the Croatian Design & Branding team.
Sweepstake Pick: Brendan Killough
"I like the red squares" - an insightful analysis by yet another Cantarus staffer.
Croatia's Twitter account doesn't just focus on football-related matters.
Here we can see the lads looking very excited to be learning CPR:
Demonstrating optimal bag-carrying technique:
And showing a bunch of old people sitting on chairs:
However, the lads' performance in front of the press conference microphone has been less than inspiring. Star striker Andrej Kramaric has contributed to the cliché cesspool with his inspiring remarks regarding the team's first opponents, Nigeria, “The first match against Nigeria is the focus of attention, and three points from that match would mean a lot.”
Kramaric then went even further out of his away to remain boring by adding "it will certainly be a very difficult and interesting game" and "The first game is the most important".
Stop rocking that boat Andrej.
A diverse social media game is undermined by boring, boring players.
Croatian fans carry an appalling reputation as travelling supporters. At the European Championships two years ago, fans threw more than a dozen flares onto the pitch during their team's match with the Czech Republic in Saint-Etienne. Pretty bad. What was even worse - Croatia was leading 2-1 at the time.
They can't even be bothered to support their own team.
Not a great score for our boys in table cloths; they’ll be lucky to get out of the group stages.