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Croatia squad

June 05, 2008 20:13 IST

Croatia squad penpix for Euro 2008:

Stipe Pletikosa (Spartak Moscow). Goalkeeper. Born 8.1.79. Caps 68. Goals 0.

His towering presence adds steel and confidence to the back four. Improved vastly after a patchy start to his international career. Missed the Euro 2004 finals through injury and Croatia paid the price.

Vedran Runje (RC Lens). Goalkeeper. Born 10.2.76. Caps 4. Goals 0.

Made his debut in Croatia's 4-3 win over Israel in qualifying and won no praise for his performance. Still, he is a good shot-stopper. Prospered in the real estate business and married to his first love Tihana, also known as "Croatia's Victoria Beckham".

Mario Galinovic (Panathinaikos). Goalkeeper. Born 15.11.76. Caps 2. Goals 0.

Recalled to the squad for the Euro 2008 qualifiers as a third choice after several years in the doldrums, likely to hold on to that spot for Euro 2008.

Robert Kovac (Borussia Dortmund). Defender. Born 6.4.74. Caps 73. Goals 0.

Not surprisingly, spent the bulk of his 16-year career in German football as he was born in West Berlin. Had a decent two-year spell with Juventus. Very reliable and experienced, can play either as right back or a central defender.

Dario Simic (AC Milan). Defender. Born 12.11.75. Caps 98. Goals 3.

The team's most capped and experienced player, a rock-solid centre-back who has moved to his present club in 2002 after a lean four-year spell with bitter city foes Inter Milan. Instrumental in Croatia's remarkable 1998 World Cup, when they finished third.

Dario Knezevic (Livorno). Defender. Born 20.4.82. Caps 6. Goals 1.

Moved to Serie A after five good seasons with Rijeka in the Croatian first division; scored in his international game against a Hong Kong XI in Feb. 2006.

Josip Simunic (Hertha Berlin). Defender. Born 18.2.78. Caps 62. Goals 3.

Usually plays as left back for his country although his preferred position is in the centre of defence. Good positioning but lacks pace. 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 (Manchester City). Defender. Born 5.2.86. Caps 19. Goals 0.

A highly versatile and skilled defender, he is equally effective as right back or centre-back. His outstanding performances for Dinamo Zagreb and Croatia prompted a move to the Premier League in 2007, where has soon settled in.

Hrvoje Vejic (Tom Tomsk). Defender. Born 8.6.77. Caps 3. Goals 0.

Recalled for a friendly against Norway after a six-year absence from international football, has had two good seasons with his club in Russia.

Niko Kovac (Salzburg). Midfielder. Born 15.10.71. Caps 76. Goals 13.

Robert Kovac's brother is still one of his country's key players, indispensable as cover for the back four. Scored seven goals in 45 appearances for his present club after 15 years in top Bundesliga sides, including a two-year spell with Bayern Munich. Excellent vision and long-range shooting ability.

Ivan Rakitic (Schalke). Midfielder. Born 10.3.88. Caps 7. Goals 1.

Burst on to the scene with good performances for his club this season, the 20-year old is seen as one of Croatia's most promising young players. Scored in his second international appearance, a 6-0 away drubbing of Andorra in qualifying.

Niko Kranjcar (Portsmouth). Midfielder. Born 13.8.84. Caps 40. Goals 7.

An excellent attacking midfielder, effective either on the left flank or behind the strikers. Good vision, passing and close control. Drew the wrath of Dinamo Zagreb fans after his move to bitter foes Hajduk Split. Established himself as a regular starter for FA Cup winners Portsmouth last season.

Jerko Leko (Monaco). Midfielder. Born 9.4.80. Caps 52. Goals 2.

A utility player who can be rotated around the four-man midfield, not particularly strong in any department but a reliable substitute.

Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk). Midfielder. Born 1.5.82. Caps 54. Goals 15.

Outstanding free-kick taker, his pace and dribbling skills make him an automatic starter on the right side of midfield. Missed a crucial penalty against Japan in the 2006 World Cup but played a vital role in Euro 2008 qualifying.

Ognjen Vukojevic (Dinamo Zagreb). Midfielder. Born 20.12.83. Caps 4. Goals 1.

A talented defensive midfielder with an eye for goal. Earned a call-up to the national team after two excellent seasons with his club and scored on his international debut in a 3-0 friendly win over Slovakia in October.

Danijel Pranjic (Heerenveen). Midfielder. Born 2.12.81. Caps 10. Goals 0.

Plays either as left wing or wing-back, made an impact in the Dutch league after a fine season with Dinamo Zagreb in 2005. Started as a fringe player in the national team but good performances have booked him into the Euro 2008 squad.

Luka Modric (Tottenham Hotspur). Midfielder. Born 9.9.85. Caps 25. Goals 3.

Croatia's bid to reach the last eight relies heavily on his tireless running, incisive runs and passing. The driving force of the team's engine room was signed by Spurs in April for a fee of 21 million euros ($32.69 million) after six excellent seasons with Dinamo Zagreb, where he scored 25 goals in 87 appearances.

Nikola Pokrivac (AS Monaco). Midfielder. Born 26.11.85. Caps 1. Goals 0.

A versatile defensive midfielder who moved to the France's Ligue 1 after several good seasons with Dinamo Zagreb and eight appearances for Croatia's under-21 side.

Ivan Klasnic (Werder Bremen). Forward. Born 29.1.80. Caps 28. Goals 8.

Made a remarkable return to action in September after two kidney transplants, the first of which was unsuccessful, sidelined him for six months and threatened to rule him out of football. In the early stages of his career, the prolific striker, who has scored 48 goals in 146 appearances for his club, turned down offers to play for Germany and Bosnia-Herzegovina.

Ivica Olic (Hamburg SV). Forward. Born 14.9.79. Caps 53. Goals 9.

Close control leaves a bit to be desired but has plenty of pace and strength. Named man of the match in Croatia's 3-2 win over England at Wembley that stopped their hosts reaching the finals.

Igor Budan (Parma). Forward. Born 22.4.80. Caps 5. Goals 0.

A first-choice striker for his club, where he has had an excellent season and scored 19 goals in 41 appearances since he joined them in 2006. A clinical finisher and almost certain to take his place in the squad.

Mladen Petric (Borussia Dortmund). Forward. Born 1.1.81. Caps 22. Goals 9.

He is expected to lead Croatia's attack. Scored 13 goals in 26 appearances for his club and like all good strikers, needs only half a chance to find the back of the net. Scored the goal that ended England's bid to qualify for Euro 2008.

Nikola Kalinic (Hajduk Split). Forward. Born 5.11.88. Caps 1. Goals 0.

A raw-20-year old talent expected to blossom, he has had an excellent season with his club. Named in the Euro 2008 squad after scoring three goals in as many games for the Under-21s.

(Writing by Zoran Milosavljevic in Belgrade, editing by Trevor Huggins)

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