Tuesday 16 October 2018

Croatia at the 1998 World Cup – a look back at their last semi-final run

Davor Suker finished as top scorer at France 98.

Slaven Bilic was among Croatia’s key players in 1998 (John Giles/PA)
Slaven Bilic was among Croatia’s key players in 1998 (John Giles/PA)

By Press Association Sport staff

Croatia will appear in the World Cup semi-finals for the first time in 20 years when they take on England at the Luzhniki Stadium on Wednesday.

Zlatko Dalic’s side beat hosts Russia 4-3 on penalties in their last-eight match in Sochi to set up an encounter with Gareth Southgate’s Three Lions.

Here, Press Association Sport takes a look back at when Croatia last reached the final four at France 98.

Performance

After finishing second to Argentina in Group H following victories over Jamaica and Japan, World Cup debutants Croatia claimed some impressive scalps on their way to the semi-finals. Davor Suker’s penalty edged Croatia past Romania in the last 16 before a thumping 3-0 victory over Germany in the quarter-finals – with Suker again on the scoresheet – saw them book a meeting with hosts France in the semis. They were just 44 minutes away from reaching the final when Suker scored first early in the second half but a Lilian Thuram double won it for eventual champions France. There was a happy ending for Croatia, however, as they beat Holland 2-1 in the third-place play-off, with Suker scoring his sixth goal of the tournament to claim the Golden Boot.

Key players

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Davor Suker won the Golden Boot in France (John Giles/PA)

With star names such as Zvonimir Boban, Suker, Robert Prosinecki and Alen Boksic among their ranks, it is hardly surprising that Croatia excelled in France. The contribution of Suker, who finished as the tournament’s top scorer, sticks in the memory but he was not the only one to impress. Defender Slaven Bilic and wing-back Robert Jarni also starred, with the latter opening the scoring in the victory over Germany.

Manager

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Miroslav Blazevic managed Croatia between 1994 and 2000 (David Davies/PA)

After beginning his coaching career at the age of 28 with FC Vevey in Switzerland, Miroslav Blazevic managed several clubs, most notably Dinamo Zagreb, before taking the Croatia helm in 1994. Known for his man-management skills, Blazevic inspired Croatia to the knockout stages of Euro 96, where they were beaten by eventual winners Germany, before going even further two years later. Blazevic parted company with Croatia in 2000 before going on to manage the likes of Iran, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Shanghai Shenhua, among many other teams.

Press Association

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