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UEFA EURO 2008™ co-hosts Austria open their Group B campaign against Croatia at the Ernst-Happel-Stadion in Vienna aiming to prove they are worthy of their place among Europe's élite.
• This is Austria's first appearance in a UEFA European Championship final tournament and their first taste of any major tournament since the FIFA World Cup in France a decade ago. Coach Josef Hickersberger will consider a positive start vital to his side's prospects but they can expect a tough test against a Croatia side who eliminated England in qualifying and ran out 4-1 winners on their last visit to this stadium in 2006.
• Croatia advanced to the finals as Group E winners, finishing with an impressive record of nine wins, two draws and just one defeat.
• Austria's best performance in the UEFA European Championship came in the inaugural edition of 1960, which was a four-team final tournament, where they reached the quarter-finals before losing 9-4 on aggregate to France.
• Austria finished third in their group at France '98, with two draws and a defeat. Their last victory in a major tournament was a 2-1 success against United States at the 1990 World Cup.
• Croatia's best performance in the UEFA European Championship came in 1996 on their debut appearance at an international tournament. Current coach Slaven Bilić featured in the team which beat Turkey and Denmark prior to a 2-1 quarter-final defeat by Germany.
• Croatia reached the finals again in 2004 but were knocked out in the first round following draws with Switzerland and France and a defeat by England.
• The Balkan team suffered the same fate at the 2006 World Cup where they drew with Japan and Australia following an opening loss to Brazil.
• Since finishing third at the 1998 World Cup, Croatia have not got past the first round in three appearances at major tournaments. Their only win in their last nine finals matches was a 2-1 success against Italy at Korea/Japan 2002.
• Croatia won all three of the sides' previous meetings, starting with a 2-1 triumph in Klagenfurt in an April 2000 friendly. Mario Stanić scored the winning goal for Croatia in a match which featured current Austrian international Martin Stranzl and Croatia's Stipe Pletikosa, Niko and Robert Kovać and Dario Šimić.
• Pletikosa, Robert Kovać and Šimić played in Croatia's 1-0 home victory against Austria in February 2001. Martin Hiden and Alex Manninger were in the Austria team.
• Croatia's third and most recent win against Austria came in Vienna on 23 May 2006 where they won 4-1 through goals from Ivan Klasnić (2), Marko Babić and Boško Balaban. Andreas Ivanschitz scored the Austria goal.
• The teams in Vienna were:
Croatia: Stipe Pletikosa (Joey Didulica 46), Dario Šimić, Stjepan Tomas, Robert Kovač (Mario Tokič 61), Darijo Srna (Jerko Leko 71), Igor Tudor, Marko Babić, Niko Kovač (Luka Modrić 57), Niko Kranjčar, Dado Pršo (Boško Balaban 57), Ivan Klasnić (Ivica Olić 46).
Austria: Helge Payer, Andreas Ibertsberger, Martin Stranzl, Paul Scharner, Joachim Standfest, Christoph Leitgeb (Michael Mörz 73), Andreas Ivanschitz, Thomas Prager, René Aufhauser (Ferdinand Feldhofer 66), Stefan Lexa (Christian Fuchs 83), Marc Janko (Roland Linz 64).
• Croatia captain Niko Kovač is also skipper of Austrian club side FC Salzburg and his team-mates there include Austrian internationals René Aufhauser and Christoph Leitgeb. Ivanschitz was also with him at Salzburg before he moved to Panathinaikos FC.
• Martin Harnik of Austria plays with Croatian international Ivan Klasnić at Werder Bremen.
• Darijo Srna was in the Shakhtar team that got the better of Salzburg in the UEFA Champions League third qualifying round in 2007/08.
• Croatia's coach at UEFA EURO 2004™, Otto Barić, had an earlier spell in charge of Austria (1999-2001).
• Only three teams have become European champions on home soil: France in 1984, Italy in 1968 and Spain four years earlier.
• This is the 13th edition of the UEFA European Championship and the eighth edition that features a final tournament with a group phase.
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