Croatia is one of the most interesting team in this tournament. Slaven Bilic showed his flexiblility switching easily from a 4‑4‑2 to 4‑2‑3‑1, or 4‑3‑3 or 4‑3-1‑2. This switch often happened on the same game, because Croatia's scheme is very fluid. Few managers utilizes five or six attack-minded players as they did. Against Ireland, Bilic lined up a 4-4-2 pattern. The key man to change the system is Luka Modric. Pushing forward, he can transform the system in a 4-3-1-2, also forcing rivals' central midfields to play deep, while the full backs bomb forward. Specially the move on the right is interesting: here is Dario Srna which pushes forward down the flank, exploiting the right wing Ivan Rakitic's cutting inside movement. On the left side played Dortmund’s Ivan Perisic, an attacking winger. It's a very demanding pattern, as Bilic likes to employ two attacking full-backs, though that can leave his centre-backs exposed. Against Ireland, Ognjen Vukojevic was the only true holding midfielder in the pitch.
By the way, on the defensive phase, team is lined up in a classic 4-4-2, sometimes leaving gaps between defense and midfield's line. Vedran Corluka and Gordon Schidenfeld could have troubles dealing with Italian attackers. Also, Croatia's defense suffers strong headers. Up top, Mario Mandzukic could cause the Italian back some problems, such as Fernando Torres did. Cesare Prandelli has to pick between the brave 3-5-2 formation he employed against Spain, with
midfielder Daniele De Rossi as centre-back, or to switch back to a 4-4-2/4-3-3 formation. One of the crucial battle will be on the middle, with Azzurri's midfield that will have to contain Modric. Prandelli could lined up Antonio Nocerino instead of Thiago Motta in the way to have better defensive coverage around Andrea Pirlo. On the offense, the first goal for Croatia is to get the forwards. If the spaces are closed, they come on the flanks for a crossing action. But the big Bilic's dilemma will be if to play active or reactive. Croatia is not suited to defend, having so much offensive minded players but when they are deep, the whole team work on the defensive phase. Srna and Rakitic too are able to come back and help on the flanks. The other question will be how cover
Pirlo: if Bilic will pick a forward, either Mario Mandzukic or Nikica Jelavic - or Eduardo da Silva - will drop off on him; if Bilic will go with a midfielder, one of the central players will have the duty to do it.