Croatia have become a serious European challenger as this generation of Luka Modric and co has further developed.
The last World Cup brought a peak moment in the history of their small country. They may have been outclassed in the final by France, but it was a huge occasion nonetheless.
Now is the time for the next crop of players to come through, one of which is RB Leipzig and Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol.
One for the Future, Croatia Defender Josko Gvardiol
Can the Croats Usher in a New Era?
Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Ivan Perisic are just some of the older players who have played a role in this side’s development, and are still amongst it today. Mario Mandzukic and Perisic were on target against England in the semi-final four years ago, booking their spot in the biggest footballing showcase of all.
There will be one last hurrah for some of those names and alongside them they can break in the fresh faces. In general though, a worrying number of this squad are 30 or older and are in the twilight stage of their career as they head into this World Cup.
HERE IT IS! 🥁
🇭🇷➡️🇶🇦#Croatia squad for the 2022 @FIFAWorldCup in Qatar!#WorldCup #Family #Vatreni❤️🔥 pic.twitter.com/P5T3876pP2
— HNS (@HNS_CFF) November 9, 2022
Josip Sutalo, who plies his trade in his home country for Dinamo Zagreb, is just 22 and so can learn a few lessons at the back from Dejan Lovren, Domagoj Vida and the like.
Ahead of him in the pecking order is a man who is targeted by many of Europe’s elite clubs, including Chelsea and Barcelona.
Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol is the man in question, an RB Leipzig star who plays well beyond his years.
Read More: Bribes and Broken Promises: The Issues Behind the Qatar World Cup 2022
All About Croatia Defender Josko Gvardiol
Gvardiol is another product of the Dinamo Zagreb youth academy. From 2010 to 2020, he was there in the capital of his home country, only graduating from the younger ranks into the first team in 2019.
He quickly rose to prominence, earning a move to Leipzig with just 13 senior appearances to his name.
In Germany, Croatia defender Josko Gvardiol was then tasked with filling the void left behind by Ibrahim Konate and Dayot Upamecano.
The former joined Liverpool whilst the latter made an equally high-profile move, but remained in the Bundesliga with Bavarian giants Bayern Munich. Gvardiol, alongside Frenchman Mohamed Simakan, have bridged the gap, and then some.
Everybody wants a central defender like Josko Gvardiol.
🇭🇷 Superb progressive passing & programmed to bring the ball out, he's forever minded to dictate the game from deep.
No wonder #CFC were so keen to sign the Croatia centre-back in the summer.#TheRadar | #WorldCup2022
— The Athletic | Football (@TheAthleticFC) November 18, 2022
Turning attentions toward Gvardiol’s international exploits and he already has 12 Croatian caps to his name. His debut came in the June of last year, being subbed on for Rangers man Borna Barisic at half-time against Belgium.
As previously mentioned, Vida and Lovren are amongst the experienced centre-halves in Zlatko Dalic’s squad. Gvardiol could well start over one of them and continue learning from them too, on his route to the very top.
Last Word on Football recognise the human rights abuses and instances of corruption taking place throughout Qatar and in the background of the World Cup. Learn more about some of the issues surrounding the World Cup here.