Croatia v England

Croatia v England – Two nations hope (as does Visit Croatia…we’re just not sure what for)

We here at Visit Croatia will have a very tough evening of it tomorrow. (Not as hard as the two teams on the pitch…but close.) As evidenced by our website, we’re obviously based in the UK and are English. And as also evidenced by our website…we’re also Croatian!

When the 2018 World Cup kicked off on 14th June, never in our wildest dreams would we think that one of our teams would make it to the semi-finals. To have both our teams make it is unbelievable. Two have both our teams make it and play each other is…oh, what?

Croatia v England

As a friend pointed out – “you’ll be the crazy person cheering everyone” during the match, which is very true! If Kane heads a chance just wide, we will be exclaiming “Argh!! NOOOO!!” or “HA HA!! YES!!”? If Pickford saves a long range shot from Modric, we will shout “What a shot!!” or “What a save!!”?

Maybe we’ll just keep our mouth shut, sipping a cup of tea and/or sljivovica to calm our nerves.

Probably both.

Wonder what a sljivovica & tea cocktail tastes like…

England and Croatia at World Cups

In the last World Cup in Brazil four years ago, neither team even made it out of the group stage. Croatia had a disappointing go of it, finishing third in their group (behind Brazil and Mexico), but at least winning one match (a 4-0 victory against Cameroon). England had an even worse time of it, ending up bottom of their group and getting only one point – thanks to a dismal 0-0 draw with Costa Rica.

It can’t have escaped the notice of anyone in England that the last time they reached the World Cup semi-final was in 1990 – when 16 players of the current England squad weren’t even born. By contrast, 10 of the Croatian squad hadn’t been born yet either…but neither had the entire country! (Croatia only gained independence in 1991.)

Croatia were last (and only) in a World Cup semi-final in 1998, when the ‘dream team’ made up of star players such as Davor Suker, Zvonimir Boban, Slaven Bilic, Igor Stimac, Robert Prosinecki and more ended up finishing an absolutely remarkable third. (Not forgetting a stunning 3-0 victory against Germany in the quarter finals along the way.) Davor Suker was even the Golden Boot winner of that World Cup.

Funnily enough, if England had topped their group instead of losing to Romania in their last game – pushing them into second place – they actually would have played Croatia instead of Argentina.

And not lost on penalties.

And probably not had Beckham sent off either.

Oh well.

Croatia v England through the years

The two countries have obviously played each other a number of times over the years, but no match has ever been as important as tomorrow’s game.

The next closest was a game in the group stages of Euro 2004, when England won 4-2 and a teenage Wayne Rooney scored twice.

There’s been plenty of other memorable moments, of course. Who can forget the ‘wally with a brolly’ Steve McLaren, sheltering under a huge umbrella at the side of a very soggy Wembley pitch in 2007 when Croatia unexpectedly beat England 3-2 – completely ruining their chances of qualifying for the Euros?

Or Paul Robinson (not Jim’s son and Scott’s brother – the goalie version instead) scoring a bizarre own goal as Borat looked on, leering. (Watch the video, you’ll see what I mean.)

The very first time the two sides ever met was at a friendly in the ‘old’ Wembley on 24th April 1996. And Visit Croatia was there! I can’t proclaim it was a brilliant match (it was a largely boring 0-0 draw), but it was incredibly exciting to see Croatia play England for the first time, especially in that magical arena. Check out the programme and the squads from that day:

England v Croatia 1996

Tickets only £23!

England v Croatia 1996

And Jackie Charlton as ‘special guest’!

Croatia v England, 11th July 2018

To look at it on the positive side – at least we’ll have one team in the World. Cup. Final. (Wow!! We can’t believe it!)

All we can say is – may the best team win.

(Just not on penalties.


We’ve already suffered through the drama of three penalty shootouts and we can’t take another one.)

England and Croatia - Cup of Tea

England and Croatia – A highly scientific and detailed comparison

England and Croatia may play it out on a football field in Moscow tonight, but who wins if we compare the two countries based on other criteria? Check out our highly scientific comparison below, which we spent ages (definitely more than 5 minutes) putting together.

Beauty of the Country

England – green and pleasant land.

Croatia – millions and millions (actually, 1,246) of islands, eight national parks, Istria, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik… I’m sorry, but just look at this:

England and Croatia
View over Hvar Town

Croatia win

National drinks

England and Croatia - Cup of Tea
A nice combination of England and Croatia in one photo…

England – tea

Croatia – sljivovica

Both very useful for calming nerves. Doling out sljivovica less damaging to the country’s national grid at critical times. But hmmmm, tea.

England win. Hands down.

Not being born yet

England and Croatia - Happy Birthday Croatia

England – Sixteen of the England squad weren’t even born yet when England last played in a semi final at the World Cup.

Croatia – Croatia not even born yet when England last played a semi final.

Croatia win

Despair and triumph at Wimbledon

Tough one, this. To lose three times in a Wimbledon final – twice narrowly – must be heartbreaking. To then win it as a wild card, ranked 120-something in the world, is the stuff of dreams. (And should have been made into a movie, by now.) Step forward Goran Ivanisevic. (Obviously played by Goran Visnjic when the movie comes out.)

But to be the first Brit since 1398 (or thereabouts) to win the glorious title, bettering even Tim Herman’s epic FOUR semi final appearances is absolutely magic. Bravo, Andy Murray!

Draw (And something epic like 4-4)

Football kit

England – white shirt, dark blue shorts, classic. Can’t go wrong. Could wear it to a club, on a date, to work. Whatever, man.

Croatia – red and white checks, nothing else like it. Pros – you can see a Croatian football fan from two miles away; cons – on closer inspection, it sometimes turns out to be a table.

England win

Football Crest

Three Lions on a shirt. No one sings about H N S on a shirt, do they?


England win

Football songs

No contest. You can’t move in England for hearing Three Lions every two minutes; if it’s not blaring out of someone’s car it’s the tenth version of the meme you’ve seen today. And to have World in Motion as backup (which has surprisingly been under played this time round) surpasses everything else.

England win (Croatia haven’t even entered the stadium)


England and Croatia - Croatian passport

England – Reverting back to beautiful blue!

Croatia – always have been blue, despite being in the EU. (UK – “Wot??”)

Croatia win

The EU

England – leaving

Croatia – joining (well, in 2013)

Croatia win
(Sorry Brexiters. But you’re probably not reading this anyway.)

Captain Fantastics

England – Harry Kane. Scores without even being involved in a goal. (See his third goal against Panama.)

Croatia – Luka Modric. Ridiculously talented, despite being no taller than Ant or Dec. (Which is weird, considering Croats are officially amongst the tallest people in the world. If they hadn’t counted Modric, Croatia would actually be in first place.)

England win – with a goal scored off Harry Kane’s nose

Best male pundit on UK TV

England – erm…

Croatia – Slaven Bilic. Hands down.

Croatia win

Best World Cup 2018 performance

England – six past (ahem) Panama! Get in!

Croatia – 3-0 against Messi and Argentina. Ajmo!

Croatia win

Winning a World Cup match on penalties for the first time ever

England – ✔️

Croatia – ✔️ (and then ✔️again)


Fan parks shown on TV

Croatia – thousands and thousands of people in the main squares of Croatia; letting of flares in Trg ban Jelacic in Zagreb; singing at the top of their lungs by the Riva in Split beside the beautiful Adriatic sea; packing out the gleaming Stradun in Dubrovnik

England – spilling warm beer over each other beside some stairs in Croydon

England win


8-8 after extra time.

It’s going into penalties…

*deep breath*

Croatian Football

Visit Croatia match report: Croatia v. South Korea in London

The last time Croatia played an international in London it was a truly memorable night (regardless of who you were rooting for) – there was a torrential downpour for much of the game; a wally with a brolly; a rude interpretation of the national anthem; and a highly surprising 3-2 victory for Croatia at Wembley against England, meaning Croatia topped their Euro 2008 qualifying group…and England finished third in the group, meaning they missed the tournament!

This time round, it was a much less dramatic affair, not least because it was a less pressurised match (a friendly) in a much more low-key setting (Fulham FC’s Craven Cottage – sorry if that offends any Fulham fans but really, wooden seats?) against weaker opposition (as the scoreline suggests).

The 2pm kick-off was certainly unusual for a Wednesday afternoon, but I assume this may have been scheduled in this way for television in South Korea, where it would have been 11pm. There must have only been a few thousand fans in the stadium, where only two stands were open – although different areas had been designated for South Korean and Croatian fans. In fact, I don’t believe there was any “neutral” seating, so I did hear a number of English voices (without any hint of an accent!) sitting in the Croatian side.

The South Korean fans – which, to me, seemed mainly to be young students (there must be plenty of them in London and I suppose who else would be free on a Wednesday afternoon?!) – had brought plenty of home-made banners and  signs to wave about at their players. I’m sure I’m not the only one to remark on this – now or before – but the South Korean fans also tend to scream during the match in a very high-pitched fashion when their team advances forward or they do anything remotely exciting…it’s almost like they’re at a pop concert! It’s definitely unusual for a football match where you’re generally expecting to hear loud, manly chanting most of the time – but it’s actually rather endearing.

The Croatian fans brought their usual collection of red-and-white checkered clothing and memorabilia – hats, scarfs, baseball caps, waterpolo caps (really – hey, we’re Olympian champions!) as well as plenty of flags…and yes, they participated in loud, manly chanting.

The match itself turned into a rather one-sided affair after the initial stages, with Croatia largely coasting through much of it. Certainly the 4-0 scoreline – and being able to see the top stars – made it worth attending the game despite the freezing conditions (although nothing that a cup of Bovril didn’t fix). The match also marked the hundredth appearance for Croatia for a trio of their players – Darijo Srna, Josip Simunic and Stipe Pletikosa.

I wonder if some of the English fans were pleased to see Luka Modric on an English pitch again – the Tottenham fan I attended the game with didn’t seem so happy to see him again, it has to be said…

Scorers for Croatia were Mario Mandzukic (32 min); Darijo Srna (38 min); Everton’s Nikica Jelavic (58 min); and “home-boy” (i.e. Fulham player) Mladen Petric (85 min).

Take a look at some of our match photos below, or here’s a fre of “proper” match reports! Croatia outclass South Korea in London friendly (Reuters) and Jelavic gives Moyes food for thought as Croatia ease past South Korea (Daily Mail)

Croatia - South Korea, 6th February 2013
Modric points AND runs with the ball – that’s skill!
Croatia - South Korea, 6th February 2013
100th cap man, Stipe Pletikosa – nice to see the crowds out in force for him (I joke, that stand was actually closed) – taking this photo made me miss Croatia’s first goal
Croatia - South Korea, 6th February 2013
Not a bad view for £15 seats
Croatia - South Korea, 6th February 2013
Ivan Strinic
Croatia - South Korea, 6th February 2013
See – wooden seats!
Croatia - South Korea, 6th February 2013
Off for half time
Croatia - South Korea, 6th February 2013
Back on for the second half
Croatia - South Korea, 6th February 2013
Vedran Corluka
Croatia - South Korea, 6th February 2013
A bit of midfield action
Croatia - South Korea, 6th February 2013
Celebrating the third goal
Croatia - South Korea, 6th February 2013
Lining up for a free kick
Croatia - South Korea, 6th February 2013
Celebrating the fourth goal
Croatia - South Korea, 6th February 2013
Full time
Croatia - South Korea, 6th February 2013
Croatian players – including number 3, Josip Simunic – applauding the fans