Croatia in focus

Croatia are seeking to maintain a 100% record in play-offs for final tournaments as they take on Turkey; looks back on their recent achievements under coach Slaven Bilić.

Croatia celebrate a goal in qualifying
Croatia celebrate a goal in qualifying ©Getty Images

Despite failing to reach the 2010 FIFA World Cup Croatia started Group F in confident mood, collecting ten points from their first three games with impressive away wins against Latvia (3-0) and Israel (2-1) and a 3-0 home victory against Malta. The only frustration was a goalless home draw against Greece in their second fixture, although worse was to follow when Slaven Bilić's side were beaten 1-0 in Georgia on 26 March 2011. Three successive wins – against Georgia (2-1), Malta and Israel (both 3-1) – brought them back into contention for first place but a 2-0 defeat in Piraeus in their penultimate fixture handed the initiative back to Greece and Croatia's 2-1 final-day win in Georgia was therefore only enough for a place in the play-offs.

2010 FIFA World Cup
Qualifying Group 6: P10 W6 D2 L2 F19 A13 Pts20

Croatia missed out on the World Cup finals in South Africa after a close finish to their qualifying group left them in third place, a single point behind runners-up Ukraine. Having denied England a place at UEFA EURO 2008, they found the roles reversed as they suffered two heavy losses to Fabio Capello's side – 4-1 in Zagreb in September 2008 and 5-1 in London 12 months later. Two draws with Ukraine did not help their cause either and their hopes all but evaporated four days ahead of their final qualifier in October 2009 when Ukraine leapfrogged them with a victory against England.

Final tournament: Quarter-finals
Qualifying Group E: P12 W9 D2 L1 F28 A8 Pts29

Croatia produced an impressive run in qualifying to reach UEFA EURO 2008 ahead of runners-up Russia and an England side they defeated both at home and away. Slaven Bilić's men then went on to similarly dominate Group B in the finals, winning all three matches against co-hosts Austria, much-fancied Germany and Poland. However, they bowed out in the quarter-finals on penalties against Turkey, going down 3-1 after the contest had finished 0-0 in regular time and 1-1 after extra time. Croatia were just one minute from the semi-finals after Ivan Klasnić struck in the 119th minute only for Semih Şentürk to score a dramatic equaliser in the last seconds.

UEFA European Championship best performance
Croatia's run to the last eight in 2008 matched their previous best performance when they reached the quarter-finals on their debut appearance at a major tournament at EURO '96 in England. They opened with wins against Turkey and Denmark to secure a place in the knockout stages before losing their final group game to Portugal. The adventure then ended with a 2-1 quarter-final defeat by eventual tournament winners Germany.

Key facts
Current coach Bilić, who also plays in a Croatian rock band, was a member of the Croatia sides who reached the quarter-finals of EURO '96 and then took third place at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Play-off record
1998 FIFA World Cup

Croatia 2-0 Ukraine
Ukraine 1-1 Croatia

Croatia 1-1 Slovenia
Slovenia 0-1 Croatia