Few countries have punched above their weight at the World Cup like the small Balkan nation of slightly more than 4 million citizens, which has qualified for three of the four World Cups since its independence from Yugoslavia following a bloody civil war in the 1990s and finished third at France 1998 after a stunning upset of Jurgen Klinsmann's Germany in the knockout stages.
Manager Niko Kovac, who captained the squad during his own playing days, can call on a wealth of experienced professionals playing in the upper echelons of European soccer as he prepares to mount a challenge in World Cup Group A.
Modric has helped Madrid reach the UEFA Champions League final, while playmaker Ivan Rakitic is in strong form for Europa League finalists Sevilla of Spain. And there's ample veteran wisdom from past tournaments with the likes of defender Darijo Srna, midfielder Niko Kranjcar and goalkeeper Stipe Pletikosa, who has earned more than 100 caps.
After a send-off match against Mali on May 31 and a friendly in Brazil against Australia on June 6, Croatia begin the World Cup with the most challenging assignment possible: a meeting with the host nation in the tournament's opening match in Sao Paulo on June 12. They move on to face Cameroon in Manaus on June 18 before facing Mexico in Recife on June 23.
Kovac will cut his roster down to 23 members on May 31.
Igor Bubnjic (Udinese - Italy / 21yrs)
Vedran Corluka (Lokomotiv Moscow - Russia / 28yrs)
Dejan Lovren (Southampton - England / 24yrs)
Danijel Pranjic (Panathinaikos - Greece / 32yrs)
Gordon Schildenfeld (Panathinaikos - Greece / 29yrs)
Darijo Srna (Shakhtar Donetsk - Ukraine / 32yrs)
Ivan Strinic (Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk - Ukraine / 26yrs)
Domagoj Vida (Dynamo Kiev - Ukraine / 25yrs)
Sime Vrsaljko (Genoa - Italy / 22yrs)
Milan Badelj (Hamburg - Germany / 25yrs)
Marcelo Brozovic (Dynamo Zagreb - Croatia / 21yrs)
Ivo Ilicevic (Hamburg - Germany / 27yrs)
Mateo Kovacic (Inter Milan - Italy / 20yrs)
Niko Kranjcar (Queens Park Rangers - England / 29yrs)
Ivan Mocinic (Rijeka - Croatia / 21yrs)
Luka Modric (Real Madrid - Spain / 28yrs)
Mario Pasalic (Hajduk Split - Croatia / 19yrs)
Ivan Perisic (Wolfsburg - Germany / 25yrs)
Ivan Rakitic (Sevilla - Spain / 26yrs)
Sammir (Getafe - Spain / 27yrs)
Ognjen Vukojevic (Dynamo Kiev - Ukraine / 30yrs)
Duje Cop (Dynamo Zagreb - Croatia / 24yrs)
Eduardo da Silva (Shakhtar Donetsk - Ukraine / 31yrs)
Nikica Jelavic (Hull City - England / 27yrs)
Mario Mandzukic (Bayern Munich - Germany / 27yrs)
Ivica Olic (Wolfsburg - Germany / 34yrs)
Ante Rebic (Fiorentina - Italy / 20yrs)