Saturday, 9 April 2011


Despite numerous options, Croatia find themselves struggling to find a striker to make the number 9 shirt firmly there own. After Nikola Kalinic failed to impress against Georgia, Nikica Jelavic played the friendly with France, but was similarly anonymous. Bilic's has been attempting to build the next generation of strikers, but Croatia still appear in need of Ivica Olic, Eduardo Da Silva and potentially Ivan Klasnic, whilst new arrivals in the squad adjust to international football.

With Mario Mandzukic and Nikola Kalinic struggling to hold down regular places at Wolfsburg and Blackburn Rovers respectively, Jelavic who is a Rangers star forward would appear to have a head start. The 25 year old clearly needs time to fit in with Croatia's style of play. If fully fit and scoring it appears Bayern Munich's Olic is still Croatia's star man. Having lost pace Eduardo will compete with Ivan Perisic who impressed against France in support striking roles.

Slaven Bilic currently dismissed Ivan Klasnic for international matches. However Klasnic has been the most effective Croatian forward in the English Premier League, continually putting points on the board for his club with important goals. Whilst Klasnic, who scored twice in Euro 2008 is proven in European and domestic competition Mandzukic and Srdjan Lakic struggled of late. Mandzukic, Lakic and Kalinic will all need better seasons next year to convince Slaven Bilic they should be in the reckoning.

Mate Bilic also may feel hard done by to be dropped, but needs to depart Sporting Gijon in order to pick up regular football, even if back at Hajduk Split. Only a monster season could see him come back into the fold. In reserve Dinamo Zagreb's Ante Rukavina, Ergotelis's Mario Budimir, Sparta Prague's Andrej Keric and Aris Salonika's Daniel Cesarec have been nothing special this season. Sasa Bjelanovic of Atalanta and Igor Budan of Cesana may be in line for HNL1 after goals dried up. Keric and Budimir still have potential but need to do more.

Arminia Bielfeld's Josip Tadic has shown signs of improvement, whilst Hajduk's Ante Vukusic has had a strong season, but still has much to prove at high level football. Whilst Mario Gavranovic chose Switzerland over Croatia, all is not neccessary lost as young Croatian Under 21 player Petar Sliskovic shows signs of potential at Mainz, as does Hoffenheim's Boris Vukcevic.