Mateo Kovacic has called on Croatia to show more aggression against Wales and bounce back from their shock defeat to Turkey in Euro 2024 qualifying.
Croatia caused a stir when they made the 2018 World Cup final against all odds, losing 4-2 to France at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow. However, this was not the first great year for their men's national team.
Croatia's early history
1991 was the last recorded time a Yugoslav team featured a player of Croatian descent, in a match against the Faroe Islands just days before their independence referendum, despite an unofficial Croatian team forming in 1990 and playing their first official game against the United States.
Goran Vlaovic scored the team's first recorded international goal in 1996 at the City Ground in Nottingham following a 3-0 victory over Denmark, the reigning champions at the time.
Croatia and 1998 World Cup
They beat Jamaica 3-1 and Japan 1-0 to qualify for the round of 16, although they lost 1-0 to Argentina in their last group match.
Suker opened the scoring for Croatia at the Stade de France, but two goals from Lilian Thuram ensured that France progressed to the final, where they eventually beat Brazil 3-0.
Meanwhile, Croatia had to settle for a spot in the third-place play-off, where they beat the Netherlands 2-1. Suker ended up as the tournament's top goalscorer with six strikes to his name.
Croatia and the 2000s
Croatia failed to qualify for Euro 2000 and manager Miroslav Blazevic's six-year stint in charge of the team came to an end in 2000 with 33 wins, 24 draws and 15 defeats to his name from 72 matches in charge of the side.
Zlatko Kranjcar took Croatia to the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, where they were put in a difficult group with then-defending champions Brazil, as well as Australia and Japan.
Eduardo, Luka Modric and Vedran Corluka were promoted to the first team early in his spell in charge and Croatia qualified for Euro 2008 in Austria and Switzerland. However, Eduardo suffered a major injury in a Premier League match for Arsenal against Birmingham City and Bilic was forced to adapt his squad.
In the quarter-finals, Croatia were eliminated by Turkey on penalties following misses from Luka Modric, Mladen Petric and Ivan Rakitic.
Croatia and the 2018 World Cup
Zlatko Dalic took over as national team manager on 7 October 2017 after Ante Cacic was sacked after a period of poor results. This meant that the new boss had little time to prepare his players for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Croatia faced England in the semi-finals at the Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow, hoping to return there for the World Cup final. The Three Lions took the lead early on through Kieran Trippier, but Croatia equalised through Ivan Perisic before an extra-time winner from striker Mario Mandzukic.
The World Cup final was essentially a rematch of Croatia's fiercely contested 1998 semi-final against France. A Mandzukic own goal put Les Bleus on the front foot, but Croatia levelled through Perisic. An Antoine Griezmann penalty put France 2-1 up heading into half-time.
Croatia in the 2020s
Croatia had another impressive swing at World Cup glory at the 2022 tournament in Qatar.
Draws with with Morocco and Belgium sandwiched a 4-1 win over Canada to qualify second in Group F.
Croatia's mos-capped player Luka Modric was the star of the show in their 2018 World Cup campaign and won the Ballon d'Or that year, ending a period of dominance from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo. Croatia had, incidentally, humbled Messi's Argentina 3-0 in the group stage.
Bilic enjoyed lengthy spells with the team both as a player and a manager, playing 44 times for his country and scoring three times before managing them between the periods of 2006 and 2012.
Kovac spent 12 years representing his country before taking the reins in the managerial hot-seat between 2013 and 2015, and has also represented Bundesliga giants, Bayern Munich as both a player and manager.
Hailed more for his club performances rather than those of his country, attacking midfielder Zvonimir Boban made a name for himself throughout European football for his successful stint with Dinamo Zagreb and more notably a decade at AC Milan.
Croatia's biggest rivals
Another prominent rivalry for Croatian football players and fans alike is the Derby Adriacito (Adriatic Derby) held between themselves and Italy, a side who Croatia haven't lost to since 1942. Two famous incidents at both Euro 2012 and Euro 2016 qualifiers saw games being stopped as a result of crowd trouble and flares entering the field of play.
For the last few years, Croatia fans have received a number of UEFA imposed sanctions for violence, pyrotechnic offences and racial incidents, despite the government's efforts to try and contain them.