Croatia Euro 2024 Preview | Tactical Analysis, Pick

Croatia Euro 2024 Preview | Tactical Analysis, Pick article feature image

BJ Cunningham, Cyriel Klitsie/Action Network. Pictured: Luka Modric.

After a semifinal run at the 2022 World Cup, Croatia look for a repeat here at the Euros.

The Croatians have had their golden generation with Zlatko Dalic at the helm pull off some incredible runs at international tournaments, but that generation is old now and the next generation lacks the talent to compete with the rest of Europe. Croatia have gotten deep in these tournaments by shear will and effort, but the clock is about to strike midnight on them – particularly being in a group with Spain and Italy.

Read on for my Croatia Euro 2024 preview.

Tactical Analysis

Typically, Croatia will build out in a 3-2-5 with the center backs splitting wide, fullbacks pushing higher up the pitch and Brozovic, Modric and Kovacic all interchanging with who drops into the back line and who occupies the half space. Modric will typically move around a lot, especially when opposing teams try to man mark him, which allows him to create space for the other two midfielders to operate.

The problems for Croatia exist when they enter the final third. They averaged well over two expected goals per 90 minutes throughout qualifying, but that was mainly because of the 10.9 expected goals they created in their four matches against Armenia and Latvia.

Their match at home against Turkey is a good example of the limitations they have in their attack. They lack an above average striker up top with Budmir and Kramaric both now at the age of 32 and putting up average goal scoring numbers for their respective club sides. What tends to happen is they try to get the ball out wide and create a chance via a cross or simply settle for a shot outside the box. Crosses were generally not successful for them because they were 12th in cross completion rate and 21st in aerial duel win rate.

Croatia are a very difficult team to play through when they are in their defensive block. It’s one of the reasons why they made it so deep in the World Cup, despite not being a team that provides much of an offensive threat against good defensive sides.

Croatia will man to man mark pretty much all over the pitch, although the three midfielders typically play more in a zonal fashion picking up whoever is closest to them. They are a really physical team and make it really hard for teams to play through the middle. One of the reasons why is because when they are playing passively, they will set up in a really compact 5-4-1 or 4-4-2 with Brozovic and Kovacic being outstanding ball winners.

Where teams have had success against Croatia is when they play very direct when they decide to press high. One of the main reasons why Turkey beat them 1-0 was because of long balls over the top of the last line of defense or releasing wingers out wide or in the half space in transition.


data via WyScout


Croatia's chances of going deep again are really limited by inability to create high quality chances in the final third. Their midfield trio is getting really old, they lack a creator in the final third along with two 32-year old strikers and wingers that can't create chances in 1 v 1 chances. So, I am not high on their prospects offensively, especially considering they only created 5.2 expected goals in their four matches against Turkey and Wales during qualifying.

They are going to play three really good defensive sides that are hard to build through and they don’t have the transitional abilities anymore to punish teams, so they are really stuck offensively and I am not sure how they consistently create chances.

I have them projected for 2.98 goals in their three group stage matches, so I think this total is way too high unless they make another deep run in this tournament, which is highly unlikely.

Pick: Croatia Under 5.5 Tournament Goals (-125 via bet365)

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