England and Croatia have been two teams that have slipped into the semifinals of the World Cup today. In a tournament full of surprises, where the favorites have given less than expected, the English and Croatians have been able to offer a showy and firm style of play from the group stage until being only 180 minutes away from winning the tournament that every soccer professional wants.
However, the British and the Balkans have met on more than one occasion but never in a World tournament. If we review their last confrontations we will find some qualifying matches for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa in which the English won their matches with great force, 1-4 in Zagreb and 5-1 at Wembley in a generation in which players like Modric, Rakitic or Mandzukic were making a name for themselves in the world of football while running into legends like Gerrard, Lampard, Rooney, Terry or the most charismatic and media-ready end of the Englishman's career, David Beckham. That 5-1 was Croatia's worst international result along with the game they lost by the same score against Nazi Germany.
These matches were held in September 2008 and 2009, but before that both teams met again to be able to be in the Eurocup in Austria and Switzerland in 2008. Those two games were won by Croatia 2-0 and 2-3 respectively .
However, the event and the game that can weigh the most in the memory of the fiery and the three lions occurred in the Eurocup in Portugal in 2004. Both teams had been matched in the group with the powerful France and the modest Switzerland. In the first game, Croatia did not go beyond a goalless draw against Switzerland while England saw how Zidane took away their victory with two goals in discount. Four days later Croatia did not go beyond a 2-2 draw against the French while the English opened their locker with a resounding 3-0 with two goals from Rooney and another from Gerrard.
The last day was reached with France, England and Croatia without a fixed position in the table and therefore without a ticket to the quarterfinals. Everything was focused on the Estadio da Luz in Lisbon on June 21. Croatia appeared with the following eleven: Butina; Kovac, Zivkovic, Tudor, Simunic, Simic; Kovac, Rosos, Rapaic; Sokota and Dado Prso.
On the other hand, the Swede Eriksson bet on these eleven players that game: James; Campbell, Terry, Neville; A.Cole; Scholes, Lampard, Gerrard, Beckham; Rooney. The match began in a good way for Croatia when Kovac put his team ahead after five minutes. However, with five minutes to go, Scholes put the tables on the scoreboard and Rooney would put the icing on the cake for the English comeback. With twenty minutes to go Rooney scored another goal that seemed to end the game but Tudor answered with a 2-3 score to give the game excitement. Finally, Lampard would end the Croatian dream and put England in the quarterfinals.
Scholes against Croatia in 2004
An effort that the English did not know how to extend as they lost the next match against Portugal, the host that would lose to Greece in the final, on penalties.
With all these factors we are presented with a different movie: a World Cup semifinals where Croatia can make history, since if they manage to reach the final they will achieve their best result in a World Cup since France in 1998, where they finished third. On the other hand, England will seek to be in a final again, an achievement that it has not achieved since 1966 when it won its World Cup.
Good football awaits us in two teams that have played a firm style of play throughout the tournament. It will be necessary to see which of the two remain 90 minutes from glory. France is already waiting for one of the two to be crowned in Russia.
Written by David Pineros
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