England and Croatia are becoming familiar opponents in significant matches as they meet at Wembley to kick off Group D.
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England and Croatia have been involved in several high-stakes contests in recent years and face another as they meet at Wembley in the opening round of Group D matches at UEFA EURO 2020.
• Croatia reached the final of the 2018 FIFA World Cup at the expense of England, who turned the tables later that year to qualify for the inaugural UEFA Nations League Finals.
• This is the second time the teams have met at the UEFA European Championship, with co-hosts England making their tenth appearance in the finals and Croatia their sixth. However, while England have never won on Matchday 1, Croatia are still to taste defeat – winning their last three opening fixtures at the final tournament.
• The sides last met in the 2018 UEFA Nations League, a goalless draw in Rijeka on 12 October preceding their final-day contest at Wembley the following month. Andrej Kramarić's 57th-minute goal put Croatia in front, but strikes in the final 12 minutes from Jesse Lingard (78) and Harry Kane (85) took Gareth Southgate's England into the Finals in Portugal.
• Zlatko Dalić's side had enjoyed a comeback win of their own on 11 July that year, in the World Cup semi-final at Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium. Kieran Trippier's fifth-minute free-kick was cancelled out by Ivan Perišić in the 68th minute, before Mario Mandžukić scored the decisive goal in the 109th minute.
• Those were the teams' first fixtures in almost a decade, with Fabio Capello's England having beaten a Croatia side coached by Slaven Bilić 4-1 in Zagreb and 5-1 in London in qualifying for the 2010 World Cup; Luka Modrić started the first game.
• The countries have played in three previous UEFA European Championship fixtures, the first coming at UEFA EURO 2004 when two Wayne Rooney goals helped England to a 4-2 Matchday 3 victory in Lisbon that took Sven-Göran Eriksson's team into the quarter-finals at the expense of a Croatia team coached by Otto Barić.
• That was the sides' first competitive fixture; the next two came in UEFA EURO 2008 qualifying, when Bilić's Croatia won 2-0 in Zagreb and 3-2 at Wembley against Steve McClaren's side; the latter result, on the final day of qualification, meant England missed out on the final tournament for the first time since 1984.
• Croatia's record against England at Wembley is W1 D1 L2; they also lost 3-1 in a 2003 friendly at Portman Road in Ipswich.
EURO facts: England
• This is England's tenth appearance in the UEFA European Championship; they finished third in 1968 and also reached the semi-finals on home soil in 1996.
• A team managed by Roy Hodgson won all ten qualifiers on the way to UEFA EURO 2016, where they finished second behind Wales in their section after taking five points from three matches, only to be shocked by Iceland in the round of 16 (1-2).
• Southgate's side finished top of Group A in UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying, winning seven of their eight matches (L1) to progress six points ahead of the Czech Republic, who are also in Group D at the final tournament. England's sole defeat came away to the Czechs in their fifth fixture (1-2); they had beaten them 5-0 at Wembley in their opening game.
• Kane finished as the overall top scorer in the qualifying group stage with 12 goals, scoring at least once in every game. He also provided five assists.
• Raheem Sterling was involved in 15 of England's 37 qualifying goals, scoring eight himself with seven assists.
• England have never won their opening group game at a UEFA European Championship in eight previous attempts (D5 L3). They have drawn their last two Matchday 1 fixtures 1-1, against Russia in 2016 and France four years earlier. They also drew 1-1 against Switzerland at Wembley in the opening match of EURO '96.
• The defeat by Iceland in the last 16 at UEFA EURO 2016 is England's only reverse in their last 11 EURO finals matches (W5 D5), with the eliminations on penalties by Italy (2012) and Portugal (2004) counted as draws.
• England have never lost in the finals of a major tournament at Wembley (W7 D3), though they have drawn both Matchday 1 fixtures and were defeated on penalties there by Germany after a 1-1 draw in the semi-final of EURO '96.
• England's record at Wembley is W183 D72 L39. They have won nine of their last ten matches at the stadium, including UEFA EURO 2020 qualifiers against the Czech Republic (5-0), Bulgaria (4-0) and Montenegro (7-0); the 1-0 UEFA Nations League loss to Denmark on 14 October 2020 was only their second loss in their last 22 matches at Wembley (W16 D4).
EURO facts: Croatia
• This is Croatia's sixth EURO; they have missed out just once since independence, at UEFA EURO 2000, meaning this is their fifth successive finals. They have twice reached the last eight and twice bowed out at the group stage.
• Croatia's UEFA EURO 2016 campaign was ended in the round of 16 by eventual champions Portugal, who were 1-0 winners after extra time. A team coached by Ante Čačić had finished first in their section on seven points, ahead of defending champions Spain.
• Dalić's charges were Group E winners in qualifying for UEFA EURO 2020, picking up 17 points from their eight matches to finish three ahead of Wales.
• Croatia are unbeaten on EURO Matchday 1 (W4 D1), winning the last three such matches including a 1-0 defeat of Turkey at UEFA EURO 2016.
• Having been eliminated by Portugal after extra time four years ago, a 2-1 defeat in Hungary on 24 March 2019 is Croatia's only loss over 90 minutes in their last 14 EURO matches (W9 D4).
• Croatia's record in England is W4 D1 L7. At EURO '96 in the country, they won two and lost two of their four matches, bowing out after a 2-1 defeat against eventual winners Germany in the quarter-finals at Old Trafford in Manchester.
Links and trivia
• Have played in England:
Mateo Kovačić (Chelsea 2018–)
Nikola Vlašić (Everton 2017/18)
Lovre Kalinić (Aston Villa 2018–)
Simon Sluga (Luton Town 2019–)
Andrej Kramarić (Leicester 2014–16)
Dejan Lovren (Southampton 2013/14, Liverpool 2014–20)
Luka Modrić (Tottenham 2008–12)
• Have played together:
Jordan Henderson & Dejan Lovren (Liverpool, 2014–20)
Raheem Sterling & Dejan Lovren (Liverpool 2014/15)
Tyrone Mings, Jack Grealish & Lovre Kalinić (Aston Villa 2018–)
Kieran Trippier & Šime Vrsaljko (Atlético Madrid 2019–)
Reece James, Mason Mount & Mateo Kovačić (Chelsea 2019–)
Ben Chilwell & Mateo Kovačić (Chelsea 2020–)
• Jadon Sancho scored a penalty in Borussia Dortmund's 2-0 win against Lovren's Zenit side in the UEFA Champions League group stage on 28 October 2020; Jude Bellingham came on as a substitute.
• Sterling scored the final goal in Manchester City's 3-0 win away to a Marseille side featuring Duje Ćaleta-Car on Matchday 2 of the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League.
• Mario Pašalić's goal earned Atalanta a 1-1 draw at home to Manchester City in the 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League group stage. Pašalić was in the Atalanta side beaten 5-0 at home by a Liverpool team featuring Jordan Henderson in the following season's group stage.
• Perišić scored Borussia Dortmund's late equaliser at home to Arsenal in the 2011/2012 UEFA Champions League group stage (1-1).
• Vlašić was on target in a 3-3 draw between Croatia and England on Matchday 3 of the 2019 UEFA European Under-21 Championship.
• Kramarić got Hoffenheim's goal in a 2-1 loss against Manchester City in the UEFA Champions League group stage on 12 December 2018.
• Modrić started and finished all four of Real Madrid's matches against Liverpool and Chelsea in the 2020/21 UEFA Champions League knockout phase. Chilwell, Mount and James all featured for Chelsea (1-1 a, 2-0 h).
• Mislav Oršić scored a hat-trick for Dinamo Zagreb in their 3-0 second-leg success against Tottenham Hotspur in the 2020/21 UEFA Europa League round of 16; Harry Kane had scored both goals for Spurs in their 2-0 first-leg win. Dominik Livaković, Luka Ivanušec and Bruno Petković all featured in the tie for Dinamo.
• England warmed up for UEFA EURO 2020 with two 1-0 wins in Middlesbrough against Austria and Romania, Bukayo Saka notching his maiden international goal to win the first game and Marcus Rashford scoring the penalty that decided the second, in which Jordan Henderson, seeking his first international goal on his 59th appearance, had a second spot kick saved.
• Ben White made his England debut as a substitute against Austria and was subsequently called up to the UEFA EURO 2020 squad to replace Trent Alexander-Arnold, injured late in the same game. Goalkeeper Sam Johnstone kept a clean sheet on his debut against Romania, when White made his first start.
• None of the seven players who featured in the 2021 UEFA Champions League final – Chelsea trio Ben Chilwell, Reece James and Mason Mount and Manchester City quartet Phil Foden, Raheem Sterling, John Stones and Kyle Walker – took part in either of the two Middlesbrough friendlies.
• In addition to those three European champions at Chelsea and four Premier League title winners at Manchester City, the three foreign-based players in Gareth Southgate's squad picked up winner's medals in 2020/21, Kieran Tripper helping Atlético de Madrid to the Spanish Liga title and Jadon Sancho and Jude Bellingham scooping the German DFB-Pokal with Borussia Dortmund.
• No member of England's UEFA EURO 2020 squad has ever scored a goal at the EURO finals. Just six of the 26 players were involved at the 2016 tournament in France – Henderson, Rashford, Sterling, Stones, Walker and current captain Harry Kane.
• Kane, however, won the Golden Boot at the 2018 FIFA World Cup, with six goals, where Stones also scored twice and Trippier once. Other survivors from Southgate's squad in Russia, where England finished fourth, are Henderson, Rashford, Sterling, Walker, Jordan Pickford and Harry Maguire, who also found the net during the tournament.
• Sterling has yet to score in 14 appearances at four final tournaments, including the 2014 World Cup, of which he is one of three survivors alongside Henderson and Luke Shaw, and the 2019 UEFA Nations League. In the latter competition Rashford, with a consolation penalty in a 3-1 semi-final defeat by the Netherlands, managed his only goal in nine tournament outings.
• Although he has yet to score at the EURO finals, Kane's 15 goals in 13 qualifying appearances make him England's all-time second highest scorer in the competition behind Wayne Rooney (20).
• Croatia's build-up to UEFA EURO 2020 brought a 1-1 draw at home to Armenia on 1 June and 1-0 away loss to Belgium five days later – the team's seventh defeat in their last 13 matches (W4 D2).
• Ivan Perišić scored Croatia's goal against Armenia on his 100th international appearance. He became the ninth Croatian player to reach the century, current captain Luka Modrić heading the all-time list with 138 caps.
• Joško Gvardiol made his senior international debut as a half-time substitute against Belgium. He was one of three UEFA EURO 2020 squad members – together with Luka Ivanušec and Domagoj Bradarić – who played in Croatia's 2-1 defeat by Spain in the UEFA European Under-21 Championship quarter-final on 31 May. It was Ivanušec's late penalty that took the game into extra time.
• There are reigning domestic league champions in Zlatko Dalić's UEFA EURO 2020 squad from no fewer than eight European countries. In addition to five players from 2020/21 Croatian double winners Dinamo Zagreb – Gvardiol, Ivanušec, Dominik Livaković, Mislav Oršić and Bruno Petković – the Croatia coach has at his disposal the following newly-crowned title winners: Šime Vrsaljko (Atlético de Madrid, Spain), Perišić and Marcelo Brozović (Internazionale, Italy), Bradarić (LOSC Lille, France), Borna Barišić (Rangers, Scotland), Dejan Lovren (Zenit, Russia), Josip Juranović (Legia Warszawa, Poland) and Domagoj Vida from Turkish double winners Beşiktaş.
• Furthermore, there is a current UEFA Champions League winner in the squad – Chelsea's Mateo Kovačić.
• Croatia's squad also has considerable major tournament pedigree, with 116 appearances in UEFA European Championships and FIFA World Cups between them. There are 13 survivors from the squad that Dalić led to the 2018 World Cup final, nine of whom had also been on duty at UEFA EURO 2016 – Brozović, Kovačić, Modrić, Perišić, Vida, Vrsaljko, Milan Badelj, Andrej Kramarić and Lovre Kalinić.
• Modrić is appearing at his fourth successive EURO, Badelj, Perišić, Vida and Vrsaljko at their third. The Croatia captain is level with Darijo Srna at the top of the country's all-time EURO appearance charts, qualifiers included, on 47, and needs three outings at UEFA EURO 2020 to not only join Srna on a record 12 for the final tournament but also to reach another personal milestone of 100 appearances in competitive internationals.