Going into the 2018 World Cup in Russia, Croatia notably had decent players, but that was it; very few people would have imagined they would make it to the final, let alone get there unbeaten. They, however, defied all odds and played a last against France.
At the 2022 World Cup, the 2018 runners-up are among the coveted Last four yet unbeaten. Taking out 5-time champions and favorites Brazil in the quarter-finals, the European side is set to play Argentina in the semi-finals on Tuesday evening. If you want to know about Can Croatia stop Argentina, click here.
Credits: The Guardian
Since the country declared independence from Yugoslavia in 1991, Croatia has featured in five World Cups, the first being the 1998 tournament in France. They had competed in every game since, apart from the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, when they failed to qualify.
They, however, came back stronger in 2014, but it was in 2018 Russia that they were somewhat unstoppable. They earned their way to watch what could have been their first World Cup but fell to France. In their historical run, they racked up maximum points in the group stages with wins over Argentina, Nigeria, and Iceland. They continued to wreak havoc in the knockout stages, eliminating Denmark and hosting Russia on penalties. In the semi-finals against England, they secured a hard-earned 2-1 victory in the extra time. Their historical run to finals represented the country’s best-ever performance, surpassing their semi-final appearance in 1998, where they also lost to France.
Their journey in Qatar has been somewhat similar; coming out of the group stage unbeaten, Croatia picked up from where it left. In their quarter-final matchup with Brazil, they equalized three minutes to the end of extra time in an authentic Croatian way. Like in 2018, they went through the round of 16 and quarter-finals via penalties. They will play against Argentina in the semi-finals.
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Luka’s last shot
This year’s tournament will likely be the last for 37-year-old Luka Modric, who has been the team’s anchor in recent years; this is his previous shot at adding the trophy to his collection. The former Ballon D’or winner still orchestrates for his team, captaining the side and modeling their offensive play from central midfield. Luka’s creativity with the ball threatens even the most organized teams; it is also instrumental to a Croatian side renowned for its midfield and defensive prowess.
At the 2018 World Cup, where he was recognized as the tournament’s best player, his impact on Croatia’s success was tremendous. He finished the tournament with two goals and registered one assist. Despite falling to France in the final, he was recognized as the tournament’s best player with the Golden Ball award.
Modric has the last shot with Croatia at surpassing their previous record and winning it all, but they have to get past Messi and Argentina, who are on the same mission.