England get second bite at Croatia — but should they be dreading it?
Just four days after Croatia’s 3-2 win at Wembley cost England a place at Euro 2008 the two nations were drawn in the same group in qualifying for the next major competition, the 2010 World Cup.
As Reuters sports editor Paul Radford notes in his report from Durban, there were gasps from inside the hall as Croatia went into Group Six to join the English.
But should England be relishing the prospect of almost instant revenge, or dreading the prospect of playing a side that were technically and tactically superior in their two matches?
Having dropped to the second pot after the fiasco, England must have breathed a sigh of relief to avoid Italy, France, Germany, Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands among the top seeds.
But surely, they will be wary this time of a young, hungry and talented Croatian team that sent shock waves through Europe with an outstanding performance at the new Wembley Stadium.
Having qualified for six out of seven major tournaments since they became an independent nation in 1992, Croatia quickly acquired the stature of dark horses, not least for their third-placed finish at the 1998 World Cup in France.
While Ukraine have a chance of joining the hunt for an automatic berth and a play-off spot reserved for the best eight second-placed teams from nine groups, Belarus, Kazakhstan and Andorra are likely to feature merely as also-rans.
Can England turn the tables on the team that beat them twice in the Euro 2008 qualifiers or will Croatia stretch their impressive streak at the expense of the Three Lions once again? Give us your thoughts in the comments below.