England get second bite at Croatia — but should they be dreading it?

November 25, 2007

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.


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I’m certainly not ‘relishing the prospect of almost instant revenge’!Well, not yet anyway. We still have to wait and see who will be in charge. Maybe we’ll be a little more confident then..It’s not only Croatia I’m worried about though. Ukraine aren’t a bad side either, and Belarus got a result against the Netherlands the other night.Saying that, if we play anything like we did on Wednesday we should be living in fear of Kazakhstan.

Posted by Betting Blogger | Report as abusive

we will win again.greatings from Croatia

Posted by marija | Report as abusive

I don’t think anyone’s going to argue with you, Marija.

Posted by London | Report as abusive

Twice bitten, England will surely not be overconfident again and as Slaven Bilic said, they will be a different prospect this time no matter who is in charge.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive

Of course, Slaven Bilic may not be in charge by then. Perhaps he’ll even be the England coach…

Posted by Kevin Fylan | Report as abusive

Well there goes our hope of playing in the World Cup. With Croatia, Ukraine and Andorra, I think 3rd place is the best we can hope for…Our only hope is to pick players from outside the Premiership…There is still an understanding of basic football skills in the lower leagues, rather than the foreign players who make the English players look better than they actually are.

Posted by Phil Begley | Report as abusive

I don’t see the situation as being that hopeless, Phil. England at least won’t take Croatia lightly this time.

Posted by London | Report as abusive

I dont feel worried about the group,we are the best team in the group by far.Were just low on confidence at the minute… We will be prepared for Croatia, not over-confident… And with the new boss…. who ever it may be, we have fresh ideas and a new era.18 months ago we would have been rubbing our hands together looking at this group. If we start playing remotely like we can we will win this group with ease. COME ON ENGLAND!!!

Posted by Plumbey | Report as abusive

Of course you would have been rubbing your hands looking at this group, Plumbey.. It is because you are underestimating everyone!! I think you were rubbing your hands looking at this group in qualifications for Euro 2008…. So, your players will be watching Euro on television…. You will have to understand you aren´t the best!! There are better teams.. As soon as you understand that, better for you!!!

Posted by Marija_from_Croatia | Report as abusive

England should tone down their arrogance and dig in. Croatia are much better than them, period.I have written a post on this topic too.http://soccernetlive.com/2007/11/27/ england-clash-with-croatia-again-in-worl d-cup/

Posted by John | Report as abusive

Way to go marija, give them red hell.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive

Eighteen months ago England walked past Croatia 4-2 in the European championship – I don’t remember too many people bleating about their inferior technique that night. I know Rooney was there and England are an entirely different team with him in it but the response to last week’s defeat has been ridiculous.

Posted by Warren | Report as abusive

England shouldn´t be different team without rooney than with him… England has got 50 million citizens, and you can´t tell me that you can´t find one player to replace him… Without him it is 49.999.999 citizens. For example, Croatia has got 4,5 million citizens… It is funny to say that you have lost because rooney didn´t play!!! Think about it!!

Posted by Marija_from_Croatia | Report as abusive

Marija,I agree with the fact that we were underestimating everyone… We wont be doing that this time… The hunger for qulification for the world cup will be huge. Not qualifying for these euro’s (however much it hurts) is probably one of the best things that could have happened to English international football. From the new manager that will be coming in, right down to the fact that the FA finally paying more attention to grassroots english football.The media and public reaction to not qualifying has been amazing in my eyes. Ok, the boys didn’t do use proud.But questioning their ability?… Their hearts and pride should be in question no doubt about it. But most of the England team would walk into any club or country side in the world.The point i am making is that if England play to thier potential they are the best team in this quailfying group.

Posted by Plumbey | Report as abusive

Plumbey, I think you are dead wrong. I think their pride and passion was where it should have been but they are simply not as good as they and their 50 million fans think they are. Go back to your opening sentence. You are still underestimating other teams.

Posted by Red Devil | Report as abusive

Plumbey, remember what Owen said a few days after the game… That there is no player in Croatia who could play for England…. It means that he thinks he is better than Eduardo and Petric… And that your goalkeepers are better than Pletikosa too… Just take a look on Niko Kranjcar in Premiership. He is the best Pompeys player. Modric is wanted by Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham and many other teams… You can´t say there is no Croatian player who could ever play for England. It is underestimating!! They didn´t learn anything from this failure, and I think that you haven´t the best team in our group. You have the best players, but you don´t have a team!!! And that´s why you failed to qualify to Euro… Lampard and Gerrard are two really great players, but they can´t play together… salute from Croatia!!!

Posted by Marija_from_Croatia | Report as abusive