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Bilić out to turn back clock for Croatia

Croatia coach Slaven Bilić will try to turn the clock back ten years when his team take on Germany in their second Group B fixture after both recorded opening victories.

Slaven Bilić (centre) celebrates at the 1998 FIFA World Cup where Croatia downed Germany
Slaven Bilić (centre) celebrates at the 1998 FIFA World Cup where Croatia downed Germany ©Getty Images

Slaven Bilić will hope his Croatia team can turn the clock back ten years when they take on Germany in their second Group B fixture in Klagenfurt.

• After both teams won their opening game on Sunday – Croatia defeating Austria and Germany overcoming Poland – a victory for either could potentially secure them early progress to the quarter-finals.

• Bilić's men owed their victory in Vienna to Luka Modrić's fourth-minute penalty and the coach will now hope his charges emulate the Croatia team that defeated Germany at the 1998 FIFA World Cup – rather than the one beaten by the same opponents in the quarter-finals of EURO '96™.

• It was on 4 July 1998 in Lyon that a Croatia side featuring Bilić recorded their one previous victory against Germany. Miroslav Blažević's underdogs prevailed 3-0 in a World Cup quarter-final triumph in Lyon to advance to the last four.

• Robert Jarni, Goran Vlaović and Davor Šuker got the second-half goals against a Germany side reduced to ten men following the 40th-minute dismissal of Christian Wörns.

• It was arguably the high point of Croatia's France '98 exploits, which eventually produced a third-placed finish, and marked the end of Berti Vogts' rein as Germany coach.

• The only survivors from that tie in the countries' UEFA EURO 2008™ squads are Croatia's Dario Šimić and Germany's Jens Lehmann. Of the pair, only Šimić actually played in the match.

• Bilić also played when the countries met in their first official encounter at the quarter-final stage of EURO '96™.

• Germany, the eventual champions, emerged 2-1 winners from the match at Old Trafford on 23 June that year, Matthias Sammer scoring the deciding goal in the 59th minute. Croatia striker Šuker had cancelled out Jürgen Klinsmann's 20th-minute penalty in the 51st minute but the pendulum swung back Germany's way after Croatia lost defender Igor Štimac to a red card on 56 minutes.

• Germany went on to beat the Czech Republic in the final that year but they had to wait until last Sunday, and the 2-0 victory against Poland, to record another victory in the UEFA European Championship. Lukas Podolski scored both goals (20 and 72 mins) as Joachim Löw's team became the early Group B leaders.

• Prior to that, Germany and Croatia had played three friendly matches against each other during the Second World War, the first of them on Austrian soil in Vienna. Germany won that 1941 encounter 5-1 and the following year defeated Croatia 2-0 and then 5-1.

• The teams have met twice since France '98. A 70th-minute goal by Niko Kovać, then of Hamburger SV, earned Croatia a 1-1 draw in Zagreb in March 2000, cancelling out a Marko Rehmer goal for the visitors.

• A 90th-minute effort from substitute Carsten Ramelow then helped Germany to a 2-1 win in Split on 18 February 2004 after Miroslav Klose and Croatia substitute Mato Neretljak had traded goals.

• The teams that day were:
Croatia: Stipe Pletikosa, Boris Živković, Stjepan Tomas, Robert Kovać (Dario Šimić 46), Josep Šimunić, Darijo Srna, Niko Kovać, Đovani Roso (Jerko Leko 46), Marko Babić (Mato Neretljak 74), Dado Pršo (Ivica Olić 58), Ivan Klasnić.
Germany: Oliver Kahn, Arne Friedrich, Christian Wörns, Jens Nowotny, Philipp Lahm, Frank Baumann, Dietmar Hamann, Paul Freier (Bernd Schneider 77), Torsten Frings (Carsten Ramelow 62), Miroslav Klose (Benjamin Lauth 80), Kevin Kuranyi (Fredi Bobic 67).

• This is Croatia's third appearance at the UEFA European Championship finals. They reached the quarter-finals in 1996 but were group-stage casualties in 2004.

• Germany were European champions last in 1996 having earlier lifted the continental crown as West Germany in 1972 and 1980. Runners-up in 1976 and 1992, they have appeared in every edition of the UEFA European Championship since the inception of the final round in 1980.

• This is the 13th edition of the UEFA European Championship and the eighth edition that features a final tournament with a group phase.

• Croatian internationals Niko and Robert Kovač and Ivan Klasnić were all born in Germany.

• Klasnić and his Croatia team-mate Ivica Olić are both married to German women.

• Klasnić was named as sports personality of the year by Germany's Kicker magazine in 2007 after returning to action with Bremen following a kidney transplant.

• Bilić played for German club Karlsruher SC from 1993-95, making 54 appearances and scoring five goals.

• During his time with Werder Bremen, Croatia striker Klasnić has played with German internationals Tim Borowski, Torsten Frings, Clemens Fritz, Miroslav Klose and Per Mertesacker.

• Kuranyi and Lahm were in the Stuttgart side which ran out 2-1 winners against an NK Dinamo Zagreb team including Croatia's Daniel Pranjić in the 2004/05 UEFA Cup group stage.

• Germany's Arne Friedrich plays with Croatia's Josip Simunić at Hertha BSC Berlin, where he also appeared alongside Niko Kovać.

• Croatia's Ivica Olić is a team-mate of Germany midfielder Piotr Trochowski at Hamburg.

• Michael Ballack is well acquainted with the Kovać brothers having played with Robert at Bayer 04 Leverkusen and both Robert and Niko at FC Bayern München. Oliver Neuville played alongside Robert Kovać at the BayArena.

• Frings was a team-mate of Robert Kovač at Bayern in 2004/05.