REPINO, Russia – Two nations who have been waiting years to put right the bitter memories of World Cup semi-final defeats will face each other on Wednesday in Moscow with the chance to finally go one step further.
England’s last appearance at this stage was in 1990 when they lost in a penalty shootout to West Germany in Turin while eight years later, in their first World Cup as an independent nation, Croatia lost to hosts and eventual winners France.
While many outsiders view that unexpected Croatian run to the last four as a great success, inside the country many share the view of the team’s then manager Miroslav Blazevic that it was a missed opportunity.
England too left Italy 28 years ago feeling that the team featuring Gary Lineker and Paul Gascoigne could have gone all the way.
But neither side are in a mood for nostalgia or using the past as motivation.
While Croatian players, who have been asked constantly about the generation of 1998 and never fail to express their admiration for the likes of Zvonimir Boban and Davor Suker, those comparisons are a weight they feel is unneeded.
“We are not putting more pressure on ourselves with what happened in 1998,” said midfielder Ivan Rakitic.
“What they did was impressive but we want to keep writing our own history and enjoy what we are doing which is very positive,” he added.