I'm not going to hide it, I'm unabashedly rooting for Croatia to make a miracle run in this World Cup. From familial and past residential ties to the country to my unhealthy love of the stunning kit, I love everything about this team and I honestly think they can shock the world on day one against host nation Brazil. It will be tough given that Mario Mandzukic will miss the game due to suspension, but if there's one man who can propel this team past Brazil and deep into the knockout phase it's Real Madrid maestro Luka Modric.
Modric has been playing for the Croatian national team for a really, really, really long time. he started out in the U-17 side, working his way up and finally debuting for the senior squad in 2006. He played in two 2006 World Cup games but missed out in 2010 as Croatia didn't qualify. Now, he heads to Brazil as arguably his nation's best player alongside new Barca signing (ugh) Ivan Rakitic and (hopefully upcoming RM signing) Mandzukic.
We all know what Luka is capable of. Strong for his size, he's unafraid to challenge even the biggest of players for the ball and when he wins it he's unbelievably tough to rattle as his ball control is impeccable and his vision is sublime. Able to transition the game from defense to offense in a blink, he'll likely be partnered with Rakitic in front of him and supposed RM transfer target Mateo Kovacic alongside him in a deeper midfield role. That makes three playmakers in the midfield which could either be sublime or very risky, and Luka might have to take a more defensive role if Kovacic is given more offensive freedom.
This is a team which could be the definition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Depending on the outcome of the groups and if they can manage to shock Brazil, I could seriously see them mount a threat into the quarters and beyond. However, I could also see them being a defensive sieve and flaming out by not making it past the group stage. The most likely scenario is that they'll finish second in their group and meet Spain in the first knockout game. What they have going for them is an outstanding and, most importantly, consistent midfielder in the form of Luka Modric who is capable of playing many different roles and someone who has succeeded on the biggest and brightest stage this past season. Look for him to have a massive role in any success that Croatia may find.