Zagreb, June 3 (IANS) Croatian coach Slavan Bilic is a man with his own management style and the 43-year-old former defender will hope to end six years as his country's national team coach by taking them further in the 2012 European Championships than they went four years ago.
The Euro 2008 saw Croatia sail through their group stage, taking maximum points and defeating eventual finalists in the process, Xinhua reported.
Many thought they could go all the way to the final, but suffered heartbreak against Turkey in the quarter-finals, crashing out on a penalty shoot-out after the Turks had levelled the game in the last minute of injury time.
That defeat must have served as inspiration to Bilic's side as they defeated Turkey comfortably in the play-offs to qualify for this June's competition.
This year, Croatia have a difficult group as they have to play reigning champions, Spain, Italy and the always tough to beat Republic of Ireland, but Bilic will aim to go out on a high and his players are certain to be fired up whenever they step on the pitch.
There is little doubt that Luka Modric is Croatia's best known and most important player. The Tottenham Hotspurs midfielder is the man who makes the Croatian midfield tick and has amassed 54 caps despite being just 26 years-old.
Meanwhile striker Ivica Olic will provide versatility and experience as the 32-year-old looks to overcome the disappointment of Bayern Munich's defeat in the Champions League final at the hands of Chelsea.
Other key players will be the stylish Niko Kranjcar, who has enjoyed a good season with Tottenham, while Darijo Srna has bags of experience and has matured into his role as international captain.
Croatia has always looked to play attractive flowing football and they are able to mix it with a physical edge when needed. With a nice balance and a coach who knows how to get the best out of fiercely proud side, they have an excellent chance of springing more than one surprise this summer.
Goalkeepers: Stipe Pletikosa (Rostov), Ivan Kelava (Dinamo Zagreb), Danijel Subasic (AS Monaco)
Defenders: Jurica Buljat (Maccabi Haifa), Vedran Corluka (Tottenham Hotspur), Danijel Pranjic (Bayern Munich), Gordon Schildenfeld (Eintracht Frankfurt), Josip Simunic (Dinamo Zagreb), Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk), Ivan Strinic (Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk), Domagoj Vida (Dinamo Zagreb)
Midfielders: Milan Badelj (Dinamo Zagreb), Tomislav Dujmovic (Dinamo Moscow), Ivo Ilicevic (Hamburg SV), Niko Kranjcar (Tottenham Hotspur), Luka Modric (Tottenham Hotspur), Ivan Perisic (Borussia Dortmund), Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla), Ognjen Vukojevic (Dynamo Kiev)
Forwards: Eduardo (Shakhtar Donetsk), Nikica Jelavic (Everton), Mario Mandzukic (Wolfsburg), Ivica Olic (Wolfsburg).