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Croatian's Nikola Kalinic (14) celebrates with teammates during their friendly soccer match against Estonia at Aldo Drosina Stadium in Pula May 25, 2012. (Reuters)
Croatian's Nikola Kalinic (14) celebrates with teammates during their friendly soccer match against Estonia at Aldo Drosina Stadium in Pula May 25, 2012. (Reuters)

A closer look at Croatia’s Euro 2012 squad Add to ...

The Croatia squad for the Euro 2012 finals comprises the following 23 players:

GOALKEEPERS

Stipe Pletikosa (FC Rostov). Goalkeeper. Born 8.1.79. Caps 91. Goals 0.

Showed patchy form in Croatia’s Euro 2012 qualifying campaign but was able to stay the first-choice goalkeeper due to the inconsistent form of the other two. Known as a good penalty taker and scored five spot-kicks with his first club Hajduk Split, where he won a league title and two national cups. Enjoyed an outstanding Euro 2008 where Croatia reached the quarter-finals before he suffered a dramatic dip in form during the 2010 World Cup qualifiers. An excellent shot stopper but struggles with crosses.

Danijel Subasic (Monaco). Goalkeeper. Born 27.10.84. Caps 4. Goals 0.

Made his debut in a 5-0 friendly win over Lichtenstein in 2009 but has not made a competitive appearance yet despite Pletikosa’s inconsistent international form in recent years. Enjoyed three good seasons with Hajduk Split and helped them to the Croatian Cup in 2012 before he joined his present club, struggling in the French second division, in January 2012.

Ivan Kelava (Dinamo Zagreb). Goalkeeper. Born 20.2.88. Caps 0. Goals 0.

Shone in his club’s 1-0 defeat by Real Madrid in their opening Champions League match this season. Having started as a nine-year old at Dinamo, he made an impact after returning from a one-year loan at neighbours Lokomotiva in 2010. He won 50 caps for Croatia at various youth levels and is seen as a long-term replacement for Pletikosa in the near future.

DEFENDERS

Josip Simunic (Hertha Berlin). Defender. Born 18.2.78. Caps 95. Goals 3.

The Australian-born is nearing the end of his illustrious career but is still an automatic starter due his versatility, composure and remarkable ball skills for a towering defender, 1.93 metres tall. Losing several yards of pace since his debut in 2001 means he can no longer effectively play as a left back but his vast experience and aerial prowess make him a natural first-choice central defender. He was at the centre of Graham Poll’s famous World Cup 2006 error, when the English referee failed to send him off for a second yellow card. Simunic, however, was eventually dismissed after being booked for the third time in the match.

Vedran Corluka (Tottenham Hotspur). Defender. Born 5.2.86. Caps 54. Goals 3. Having moved to the Premier League at the age 21 when he joined Manchester City, the versatile defender who can be moved across the back four peaked at Tottenham before he was loaned to German side Bayer Leverkusen in January 2012. Having played in his natural positions of right back and centre back for Croatia, Corluka has most recently switched to left back due to the team’s lack of options in that position. Like Simunic, he has excellent vision and very good ball skills for a tall defender. He likes to come forward for set pieces and scored one of Croatia’s goals in their crunch 3-0 qualifying win in Turkey.

Domagoj Vida (Dinamo Zagreb). Defender. Born 29.4.89. Caps 10. Goals 0.

Able to play either as right back or centre back, Vida made his debut as a substitute when Croatia held France to a goalless draw in a friendly in Paris. He has excelled since and started both legs of their 3-0 aggregate win over Turkey in the Euro 2012 playoffs. Known for his tough tackling and combative approach, Vida has added steel and vigour to an ageing Croatian defence lacking depth.

Gordon Schildenfeld (Eintracht Frankfurt). Defender. Born 18.3.85. Caps 12. Goals 0. The much-travelled centre back seems to have settled at his present club in the German second division, where sound performances have earned him a spot in Croatia’s first team more or less throughout their Euro 2012 qualifying campaign. Having struggled to establish himself at four clubs since he left Dinamo in 2008 before he found his feet at Frankfurt, Schildenfeld looks set to retain his position in the national team’s back four where the Croatians do not have too many options.

Ivan Strinic (Dnipro Dnipopetrovsk). Defender. Born 17.7.87. Caps 17. Goals 0.

The left back broke into the squad after Croatia’s failure to qualify for the 2010 World Cup and he is seen as a long-term solution to the team’s problems in his slot, if he can establish himself in the first eleven. Played the full 90 minutes in Croatia’s last four Euro 2012 group qualifiers but was left out of the 3-0 aggregate win over Turkey in the two-legged playoff.

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