5) Dejan Lovren
Castigated by many after an erroneous performance against Tottenham earlier in the season, Lovren has shown great mental strength to come back and have a fine season that he had with the Reds. While Liverpool and Karius will not forget the final for quite sometime, it is worth noting that Lovren had a brilliant game as he kept the likes of Ronaldo quite throughout the game. A senior figure at the back, Lovren will have the task of organizing the defence for Croatia to let the likes of Modric and Rakitic play their game.
4) Ivan Perisic
The former Borussia Dortmund man has become a key figure for Inter in recent years, with his athleticism and dynamism. His direct style of play has attracted many suitors with the likes of Manchester United reportedly seriously interested in his services. It is a sign of a tough mental strength of a player who was let go off by Dortmund and joined Wolfsburg to relaunch his career. The 29-year old had a fine season in which he had 11 goals and 9 assists in the Serie A as Inter qualified for the Champions league football. Croatia’s game will have a lot of threat going forward if Perisic is in form.
3) Mario Mandzukic
While he did not have the best campaign by any means, Mandzukic once again proved his worth with some fine performances when called upon. He was going through a goal drought before the match against Real Madrid, but still kept his head high up and nearly masterminded Juve’s incredible comeback with his two goals before a contentious decision ended Juve’s dream. On that night, Mandzukic once again reminded the football world of his powers. A team-player through and through, Mandzukic has successfully evolved into a fine winger as well in order to accommodate Gonzalo Higuain, and will be a key player leading the line for Croatia in the summer.
2) Ivan Rakitic
The 30-year old has proved to be a smart acquisition in the midst of some terrible signings by the Catalans. In his four years at the club, Rakitic has scored and won the Champions league final and has undergone several positional changes but to good effect. The Croatian has become much more complete than he was at Sevilla and that is evident by the trust displayed by the managers he has played under. Last season was the one where Rakitic evolved as a senior figure. His work rate and calmness on the ball makes him an ideal player for any manager. With a fine season, Rakitic would be full of confidence and will be a key figure for the national side in Russia next month.
Coming on the back off yet another Champions league winning season, Luka Modric will be full of fire for Russia this time. The central midfielder has evolved into a world class midfielder since making the move from Tottenham to Real Madrid. From being labelled as the worst signing of Real Madrid to possibly their most influential player alongside Ronaldo, Modric has shown incredible talent to shake off the pressure which comes along whilst playing for Real Madrid. Now 32, Modric is entering the twilight of his career. He is one of Croatia’s senior figures having made more than 100 appearances for the national side. His experience will be vital if Croatia are to make an impact in the world cup.