The World Cup is ominously close! So that you aren't caught offside (they have that in soccer, right?), we're previewing all the participants, bringing you Four Things You Don't Know About Them. If you have a tidbit, send it along to tips@Deadspin.com. Today: Croatia! And for World Cup previews that are even better than ours, check out That's On Point, who helped us with these as well.
• 1. Free Jerko. First and foremost, the Croats have a player named Jerko Leko. ... They flopped at Euro 2004 with playing Bremen hitman Klasnic. New coach Zlatko Kranjar likely won't make that mistake. ... A pretty good mix of stars and role players who seem to like playing with each other. Also good mix between young and old. ... One of the few teams in Fifa 2006 online that can consistently defeat Brazil. Although that seems doubtful when they meet June 13 in Berlin.
• 2. Being Severina Vuckovic. Of Croatioan descent: None other than, John Malkovich, Vanna White, Bill Belichick, Nick Saban and the lovely Severina Vuckovic, who is known as the Croatian Paris Hilton. She even has her own sex tape scandal that has tarnished her wholesome image. But we refuse to show a link to that here (we couldn't find one).
• 3. What Could Possibly Go Wrong?. Former Croat legend Zvonimir Boban earned international acclaim for stopping the police from beating a young fan following a riot between a Dinamo Zagreb/Red Star Belgrade match (Oh, those wacky Serbs.). Suffice to say, bring your bulletproof vests should Croatia somehow find a way to play Serbia.
• 4. King Me. Croatia lays claim to inventing the necktie (no word on the piano-key variety). Also, if you get bored, you can Tivo one of their games and pause it and play a game of checkers on their jerseys. — (thanks to Mike Cardillo).
(Tomorrow: Costa Rica)