Just as with finalists France, Croatia’s run in Russia has cast the collective footballing mind back 20 years. For the French side, hosts and winners back in 1998, only a repeat will do, but Croatia desperately want to go at least one stage beyond the side that lost to the hosts in the semifinal before defeating the Netherlands in the third place match.
The respect between the two generations is apparent. Davor Suker, golden boot winner in 1998 and current president of the Croatian FA, has said skipper Luka Modric has been the best player at the tournament and that he’d “give Luka three votes [for the Golden Ball] if I could.”
Modric’s midfielder partner Ivan Rakitic, who has become the first man to score two decisive shootout penalties in the same World Cup, says their predecessors are always on the minds of the current crop. “They are our heroes, our inspiration, we want to continue on that way,” the Barcelona man said. But how do the two teams compare? DW takes a look.
Daniel Subasic, the current keeper, has excelled in Croatia’s shootout wins and has been a reliable stopper for Monaco for the last six years, but a bad mistake against Denmark showed why he’s not regarded in the top tier of world keepers. The man between the sticks in 1998, Drazen Ladic, is now Croatia’s assistant manager and was a solid but limited stopper, who spent the vast majority of his career at Dinamo Zagreb.