The Croatia national football team, having outplayed the Greek national football team in play-offs, was qualified for the FIFA World Cup for the fourth time. Croatia got into the play-offs from the second place in Group I where could outstrip the Ukraine and Turkey national football teams.
Croatia gained its independence only in 1991, and in 1992 it became the FIFA and UEFA member. The first tournament where the Croatia national football team took place was the qualifying tournament for the 1996 UEFA European Championship. Respectively, the first World Cup where the Croatia national football team participated became the 1998 FIFA World Cup France. Surprisingly, but already in their first tournament the Croats achieved their best result.
The Croats had good luck of the draw — at the group stage they expected to meet the Jamaica, Japan and Argentina national football teams. In the first two rounds the Croats outplayed two outsiders of the group — Jamaica and Japan, and secured a berth at the play-offs. They lost only the last match to Argentina at the group stage. In round of last 16, thanks to Davor Suker’s goal with a penalty, the Croats outplayed the hard Romanians. And in the quarterfinal the real sensation burst — Croatia outplayed the Germany national football team, having sent three unanswered goals into the net of Germans. That victory became the greatest and well-known in the short history of the Croatian football. In the semi-final Croatia met the future winners of the World Cup, the France national football team. At the beginning of the second half, Davor Suker took the lead, but then the French scored two goals and didn’t let the debutants get into the final. In the third place play-off the Croats outplayed the Netherlands national football team and, thereby, won the first in their history bronze medals of the World Cup. Davor Suker, the top scorer in the history of the Croatian who scored in the World Cup in France six goals, became the hero of the tournament and all Croatia.
Unfortunately, the Croats didn’t manage to repeat or even to approach the achievement of 1998 any more. In the 2002, 2006 and 2014 World Cups, they couldn’t overcome the group stage.
Three times the Croats overcame the group stage in the European Championships, but they could not leave the first round of the play-offs. The most disappointing loss in the European Championships can be considered the performance at 2016 UEFA Euro France. At the group stage the Croats showed a beautiful attacking football and won the first place, having outstripped the Spain, Turkey and the Czech Republic national football teams. In round of last 16 the Croats had a great advantage over Portuguese, but three minutes before the end of overtime they missed an offensive goal and left the tournament.
Earlier, when Croatia was a part of Yugoslavia, the Croatian football players were regularly called to the Yugoslavia national football team. For example, Drazan Jerkovic became the top scorer of the 1962 World Cup in the Yugoslavia national football team. And Robert Prosinecki is the only football player who scored in the World Cups for different national teams (in 1990 for Yugoslavia, in 1998 for Croatia).
The today’s Croatia national football team, despite not the highest ranking, is one of the hidden favourites of the starting World Cup. The most powerful line of the Croatia national football team is its half-backs where Luka Modric (Real Madrid), Ivan Rakitic (Barcelona) and Ivan Perisic (Inter) perform. The skilled forward of Juventus Mario Mandzukic attacks in the Croatia national football team.