What If Croatia Had Not Lost to France in the 1998 World Cup?by Alex Al-Kazzaz December 15, 2020 0 comments
The 1998 FIFA World Cup is one for the ages. The tournament was hosted in France for the first time since 1938. In addition, four national teams would make their first appearance in the tournament.
France would shock the world and win their first title, becoming the sixth nation to win the title at home. Finishing with a perfect 3-0 record in the group stage, eliminating Paraguay and Italy in spectacular finish proved Les Bleus’ dominant and resilient strength. Defeating Brazil 3-0 in the final proved France’s world-class talent and dominant play style. Les Bleus were officially on top of the world.
However, Croatia would pull off a major miracle of their own. Croatia was one of the four debutants of the tournament. Before their famous semifinal clash against France, the Croats would eliminate Germany in the quarterfinals after dumping Romania in the Round of 16. Croatia would lose 2-1 against France, however, they would defeat the Netherlands to claim the bronze medal. Croatian striker Davor Suker would finish as the tournament’s top scorer (6 goals).
What If Croatia Had Defeated France In Semifinal Encounter?
After a fighting tooth and nail, the first half ended with both sides scoreless. Early in the second half, Suker would give the Croats a 1-0 lead after a crucial error committed by the French defense. However, France would equalize a minute later and gain the lead in the 70th minute. Croatia would try to battle back but France would hold on and the rest is history.
If the roles had been reversed, it would have certainly been the upset of the century. France would have been the second nation in eight years to lose in the semifinals on home soil and have to try to settle for the bronze. In Croatia’s case, they would have had their hands full in the final against Brazil, but could possibly have found a way to upset the defending champions. Croatia was an underdog team with tons of talent.
Unfortunately, the success of their ’98 World Cup campaign didn’t follow. Croatia would not qualify for Euro 2000 and would not have a good World Cup run until 2018. In France’s case, they would win Euro 2000 but soon their golden generation would fall apart in 2002.
Fast forward 20 years later, both teams would establish a new golden generation. Coincidentally, the two meet in the 2018 World Cup final where France would once again outduel Croatia and win its second World Title.
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