A British adage went, ‘The sun never sets on the English Empire!’ However, in a match that saw the dark horses of the tournament rise up to eclipse the English sun, Croatia reached their first ever World Cup Final riding on a 2-1 win.

Zlatko Dalic’s men have revived the dream that the Croatian nation had abandoned after reaching their record best third place in the 1998 World Cup! However, Luca Modric and squad have their work cut out for them as they face an adversary in their first ever World Cup Final, who bettered their best and won the World Cup in 1998; France.

While clashing with the Les Blues is no easy feat, Croatia has emerged as a team that has crossed the hurdles of the Tournament with fair amount of ease and performances that have been consistent! Here is a look at the roadmap of the rise of Croatia:

Group D

Croatia-2 Nigeria-0: Dalic’s men started their tournament riding a win against Nigeria. The first 3-point grab worked wonders for their morale! The match saw Nigeria shooting an own goal in the first half by Oghenekaro Etebo which paved the way for Croatia’s win which was followed by captain Luka Modric shooting a beauty from the penalty spot with 19 minutes left on the clock.

Group D

Croatia-3 Argentina-0: The world knew that Luca Modric and his team had arrived when they showcased a win against the two-time World Champions that was too easy and too comfortable. This match was an indicator of the storm that the trio of Ante Rebic, Modric and Ivan Rakitic would cook up with all three of them sending the ball in the net with astonishing skill and beauty!

Group D

Croatia-2 Iceland-1: Iceland was the team that had shocked everyone by freezing Argentina in the first match itself. However, this match saw Croatia play with determination and an unparalleled confidence!  Milan Badelj’s 53rd-minute goal was equalized by a Gylfi Sigurdsson penalty but Perisic who came in as a substitution ensure that Croatia proceeded with a perfect scoreboard in the 90th minute.

Last 16

Croatia 1 Denmark 1 (Croatia won 3-2 on penalties): Denmark sought to dominate early on with a goal by Mathias Jorgensen in the first minute itself. However, Croatia levelled up soon with a goal by Mario Mandzukic. The hero of the previous matches Modric, however, missed a penalty and failed to give Croatia a lead and the match went to the penalty shootouts. Croatia emerged as the winners with goalkeeper Danijel Subasic emerging as the hero and for the first time in 20 years, it appeared that Croatia had a fighting chance!


Croatia 2 Russia 2 (Croatia won 4-3 on penalties): A match that was a nail biter till the very end, Croatia finally put a break on the dream run the hosts had up until then! Denis Cheryshev’s beautiful goal was equalized by Andrej Kramaric. While Domagoj Vida gave the lead to Croatia, an equalizer by Mario Fernandes saw the match head to a shootout, which turned out to be in favour of Croatia.