France to take on Croatia

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> France face Croatia today in their Euro 2004 Group B meeting.

Updated: February 25, 2007 10:04 IST
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France face Croatia today in their Euro 2004 Group B meeting, six years on from the epic World Cup semi-final when the Balkan State briefly dreamed of gatecrashing the hosts' party and taking their place in the final before going out 2-1 to the eventual champions. However, while France have apart from the 2002 World Cup debacle maintained their high standards, Croatia have slipped way below that level even if they are expert at reaching the finals of the major tournaments. The last of the golden generation of Zvonimir Boban, Robert Prosinecki and Aliojsa Asanovic disappeared after the first round exit in the 2002 World Cup finals and as their replacements showed in the tedium of the opening 0-0 draw with Switzerland, they know little about creativity. No wonder Croatian Prime Minister Ivo Sanader said yesterday he saw the size of the task at hand to beat the reigning champions as "mission impossible," unless his compatriots can unearth a Zinedine Zidane from somewhere. The Croatian management appear to have accepted that there is no hope in taking on the French seriously and are preparing to field several second choice players, though many back in Croatia would say they could hardly play worse than the ones who started against Switzerland. (AP)

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