France v Croatia Head-to-Head encounters hold key to World Cup Final?
Heartbreak for England and Belgium in the World Cup Semi-Finals means a date with destiny for France and Croatia.
Les Bleus will be appearing in their third World Cup Final appearance, with Zlatko Dalic’s men making their bow in the tournament showpiece.
But how do the two sides stack up against each other since their first meeting in 1998? We’ve raided the Football Yearbooks to give you the lowdown…
France 0-0 Croatia (11th March 2011)
The last meeting between the two sides came seven years ago in Paris.
Laurent Blanc and Slaven Bilic were the respective managers that day as the two nations played out a drab 0-0 draw at the Stade de France.
Of the current squads, Hugo Lloris, Blaise Matuidi, Vedran Corluka, Dejan Lovren, Luka Modric and Ivan Perisic were all involved in that match.
Croatia 2-2 France (17th June 2004)
Goals were the order of the day as the two nations met during the second round of games in Group B at the 2004 European Championships.
France opened the scoring through an Igor Tudor own-goal before being pegged back from the spot by Milan Rapaic.
Miladin Prso then capitalised on a defensive mistake four minutes later to rifle home and give Valtreni a 2-1 lead.
Another error at the back then allowed David Trezeguet to level things up at 2-2 after the Juventus ace rounded Tomislav Butina to slot into an empty net.
Croatia 0-2 France (28th May 2000)
Zagreb was the venue as Les Bleus strolled to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Igor Stimac and co.
A goal in either half for Robert Pires and Trezeguet sealed the win as Roger Lemerre’s side stepped up their preparations for Euro 2000 in confident fashion.
France 3-0 Croatia (13th November 1999)
Just over a year after their semi-final meeting, France and Croatia renewed rivalries in an international friendly.
This time it was clearer cut for the hosts who eased to success with goals from Pires, Florian Maurice and Tony Vairelles.
France 2-1 Croatia (8th July 1998)
This semi-final encounter is the match that most people will be harking back to ahead of Sunday’s Final.
At their home World Cup, France were widely expected to make short work of a Croatia side making their maiden tournament appearance.
But things didn’t go to plan early in the second-half, when Davor Suker latched onto a perfectly weighted ball over the top to prod home underneath the onrushing Fabien Barthez.
France equalised just a minute later when Lilian Thuram exchanged passes with Youri Djorkaeff before firing home to make it 1-1.
Thuram was the hero once again 23 minutes later.
His hard work on the right enabled him to dispossess a defender and curl home a sumptuous strike into the far corner to send France into the Final.
The then Parma defender played 142 matches for his country in a 14-year international career. His only two goals came against Croatia that evening.
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