Croatia are set to take part in their fourth consecutive World Cup and sixth overall since the country gained independence in 1991, and they have never been closer to the title than four years ago.
Croatia participated in their first World Cup final in Russia but left the Luzhniki Stadium with silver medals after a 4-2 defeat to France.
Zlatko Dalic’s side will now be looking to go one better, and while they are normally viewed as one of the dark horses in major international tournaments, their performances in the Nations League have shown that they are more than capable of another deep run in Qatar.
Captain Luka Modric has helped his side to a draw and a victory over world champions France, who scored just one goal across the two Nations League matches.
Modric remains one of the best midfielders in world football as a regular starter for Real Madrid, with Marcelo Brozovic of Inter Milan and Chelsea’s Mateo Kovacic crafting a wealth of experience in central areas.
There are some promising stars in defence too, such as Martin Erlic helping shape in what looks to be a positive era for Croatia, whose shift in focus has seen them become a team that looks to control games through their defensive structure and technical ability.
Croatia have lost just one of their last 13 games as they approach September Nations League clashes, which will be the final two competitive games before they kick-off their World Cup campaign against Morocco on November 23.
Croatia's Road to Qatar
Manager: Zlatko Dalic
Star Player: Luka Modric
One to watch: Martin Erlic
World Cup finals appeared in: 1998, 2002, 2006, 2014, 2018
Fixtures: Nov 23 – Morocco v Croatia / Nov 27 – Croatia v Canada / Dec 1 – Croatia v Belgium