Pa Doug McIntyre
Posted by FOX Sports Soccer
Editor’s note: Every day from now until the start of the first match World Cup 2022 On November 20, we will open another memory from the history of the World Cup. The countdown from 101 continues with Croatia’s “Cinderella” competition at Russia-18.
Every modern World Cup final has featured the usual suspects. Of the 10 championship matches between 1978 and 2014, each was between teams that had previously reached the final. Seven of the eight were previous winners. The new nation hasn’t reached the end game in the winner-takes-all sport since then Netherlands did it in 1974.
In 2018 Croats went beyond the script for the first time in 40 years. Led by Real Madrid maestro Luka Modric, the Croats surprised almost everyone on the planet by advancing to the final against France. Being on the lighter side of the knockout class certainly helped; Modric’s side played modestly Denmarkweak Russian team and then reassessment England side meanwhile, Les Bleus had to go through a couple of two-time champions in the Argentina and Uruguaylater Belgiumthe highest ranked FIFA team at the time.
However, Croatia’s success was not a complete shock. Two decades ago, they reached the semi-finals, losing only to hosts and eventual winners France in 1998. Les Bleus Repeating the feat in 2018, Croatia – who became the second most populous nation (after Uruguay) to reach the World Cup decider – did themselves proud by scoring twice in a 4-2 thriller.
One of North America’s leading soccer journalists, Doug McIntyre has covered the United States men’s and women’s national teams at numerous FIFA World Cups. Before joining FOX Sports in 2021, he was a staff writer for ESPN and Yahoo Sports. Follow him on Twitter @Written by Doug McIntyre.
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