Having qualified for every one of the European Championships they have entered since 1996, the Croatia national team have always shown great promise, yet never quite delivered.
With some truly world-class players in the squad, could it be different at Euro 2016?
Route to Euro 2016
Croatia finished as runners-up to Italy in Qualifying Group H and drew twice with the group winners. However, UEFA docked Croatia a point for the racist behaviour of their fans during the home game against the Azzurri.
A 3-0 win over Bulgaria and a 1-0 defeat of Malta narrowly secured them second place. In the end, there was just one point between them and third-placed Norway.
Croatia lost only once – to Norway – with an own goal from Vedran Ćorluka sealing their 2-0 defeat. However, they owe a debt to Italy for coming back from 1-0 down to seal a 2-1 win against Norway, depriving them of the points they needed to move above Croatia.
Croatia and Inter Milan utility forward, Ivan Perišić, was Group H’s top scorer with six goals.
The Croatia national team have reached the finals of every European Championships they have entered, the first being Euro ‘96. They have twice made the quarter-finals.
At Euro ‘96, Croatia lost a quarter-final to eventual winners, Germany, despite a classy goal from Davor Šuker.
At Euro 2008, Croatia won all three of their group games – including a 2-1 win over Germany – before going out in a penalty shootout to Turkey in the quarters.
Head coach, Ante Čačić, got the job in September 2015 after an away draw with lowly Azerbaijan led to all-time top scorer and FA president Šuker sacking Niko Kovač.
Čačić’s appointment was unpopular at first, but the he alleviated any doubts by leading the team to second place and an automatic route to the Euros this summer.
Čačić had been manager of NK Lokomotiva for a just few months before Šuker put him in charge of the national team.
His longest time in any job – during what was a nomadic coaching career at club level – was the three years he spent as assistant manager of Libya.
Most important player
Croatia make use of an unusual style built around two world-class playmakers in the shape of Luka Modrić (Real Madrid) and Ivan Rakitić (Barcelona). Since moving to Barcelona in 2014, it is Rakitić who has been the more impressive of the two midfield generals.
The former Sevilla man has unbelievable ability to read a game, paired with high box-to-box stamina and incredible passing range. Rakitić is just as adept at holding up the ball as he is at pushing forward with driving runs.
Widely dubbed the ‘new Messi’, Barcelona’s attacking midfielder, Alen Halilović, seems to be taking such lofty plaudits in his stride.
At 5’7”, he has a low centre of balance, wonderful dribbling skills, incredible pace and precise, yet vicious power.
Of course, it remains to be seen whether Halilović will reach the same level as the five times Ballon d’Or winner with whom he is often compared. Watch this space…