The Republic of Ireland take on Croatia in their first Group C game at UEFA EURO 2012 having not played at a final tournament since the 2002 FIFA World Cup.
• The Irish have had slightly the better of the sides' previous six meetings, boasting the record W2 D3 L1 against Croatia. In their two competitive meetings, the sides claimed a win apiece.
• They first met in Dublin on 2 June 1996, in Croatia's final preparation match before their major finals debut at EURO '96. Davor Šuker (14) and Zvonimir Boban (46) gave the visitors a 2-1 lead after Keith O'Neill had levelled (24). Niall Quinn salvaged a 2-2 draw for the Irish with an 89th-minute equaliser. Slaven Bilić played the full 90 minutes.
• The teams' next meetings came in UEFA EURO 2000 qualifying, where an Ireland side featuring teenagers Robbie Keane and Damien Duff beat Croatia 2-0 in Dublin thanks to a fourth-minute Denis Irwin penalty and a Roy Keane strike (15). Bilić again featured in the return leg as a last-gasp Šuker strike gave the home side a 1-0 win.
• A friendly in Dublin on 15 August 2001 produced a repeat of the 1996 result, with Damien Duff (21) and Clinton Morrison (78) scoring for the hosts, only for late goals by Davor Vugrinec (80) and a Šuker penalty (90) to earn the visitors a draw. Manchester United FC defender John O'Shea, then 20, won his first cap.
• The Irish fared better when the teams met again in Dublin for a friendly on 16 November 2004. A 24th-minute Robbie Keane goal earning them a 1-0 victory.
Selected previous meetings
10 August 2011: Republic of Ireland 0-0 Croatia – Dublin Arena, Dublin, friendly
Republic of Ireland: Given (Westwood 65), Kelly, Dunne, St Ledger, Ward, Duff (Treacy 83), Whelan (O'Dea 74), Gibson, Hunt (Keogh 65), Long (Cox 83), Keane.
Croatia: Pletikosa, Ćorluka (Vrsaljko 74), Šimunić, Lovren, Strinić, Srna, Modrić, Vukojević (Dujmović 86), Kranjčar (Iličević 65), Eduardo (Olić 46), Mandžukić (Kalinić 74).
• The sides' most recent meeting was their first at the new home of Irish football, the Dublin Arena.
4 September 1999: Croatia 1-0 Republic of Ireland (Šuker 90) – Stadion Maksimir, Zagreb, UEFA EURO 2000 qualifier
Croatia: Ladić, D Šimić, Jarni, Soldo, Štimac, Bilić (Rukavina 46), Asanović, Stanić (J Šimić 85), Šuker, Rapaić, R Kovač
Republic of Ireland: A Kelly, Carr, Staunton, Breen, Cunningham, Carsley, G Kelly (Harte 73), Kinsella, Cascarino (Quinn 83), McLoughlin, Duff (Kilbane 57).
• Miroslav Blažević's Croatia got the better of Mick McCarthy's Ireland in the teams' last competitive meeting, with Šuker hitting his 42nd international goal to record a 1-0 win. Bilić played the first half, but gave way to Tomislav Rukavina at the break.
• Ireland have not lost in six competitive meetings since that 0-0 friendly draw against Croatia in August 2011, recording three wins and three draws as they made it to the finals of UEFA EURO 2012 with a play-off success against Estonia.
• Eliminated on penalties by Spain in the last 16 of the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Ireland are unbeaten in finals games since losing 2-0 to the Netherlands in their final fixture at the 1994 World Cup, in the round of 16.
• The Irish are competing in a UEFA European Championship final tournament for the first time since making their debut in the 1988 event. In West Germany, they beat England 1-0 in their opening fixture, but missed the cut for the semi-finals, drawing against the Soviet Union then losing to the Netherlands.
• Croatia are competing at a third successive UEFA European Championship; they have missed only one of the last five – UEFA EURO 2000.
• Croatia lost on penalties to Turkey in the quarter-finals of UEFA EURO 2008; they have thus not lost a European finals tie over 90 minutes since being beaten 4-2 by England in their final group stage game at UEFA EURO 2004.
• A Croatia side featuring Stipe Pletikosa and Josip Šimunić beat Giovanni Trapattoni's Italy 2-1 in their second game at the 2002 World Cup finals.
• Vedran Ćorluka and Richard Dunne played together at Manchester City FC from 2007 to 2008.
• Between 2009 and 2011, Ćorluka, Luka Modrić and Niko Kranjčar shared the Tottenham Hotspur FC dressing-room with Robbie Keane when the Ireland striker was not on loan at Celtic FC and West Ham United FC.
• Nikola Kalinić played alongside Keith Andrews at Blackburn Rovers FC between 2009 and 2011.
• In January Nikica Jelavić moved from Rangers FC to Everton FC, becoming a team-mate of Darron Gibson who signed from Manchester United FC the same month.
• When Brian Kerr's Ireland won the 1998 UEFA European Under-18 Championship, to go with the U16 title they had picked up two months earlier, they met Croatia in the finals group stage in Cyprus. Robbie Keane scored in the 5-2 win, playing alongside Dunne in the Ireland team. Pletikosa lined up for Croatia.
• The Irish went on to take the title by beating Germany 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw, while the Croatians earned bronze medals with a 5-4 shoot-out win after a goalless 120 minutes with Portugal, Pletikosa making the decisive save.
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