France-Croatia: Three things to know about the rivalry

France and Croatia played in a classic semifinal 20 years ago. In recent years, players on the World Cup 2018 finalists have played side by side on some of Europe's biggest teams.

1. Thuram scores his two and only goals for France.

France and Croatia have met in the World Cup once before, and it was one of the most memorable semifinals ever. Croatia took the lead in the 46th minute on Davor Suker's goal but Lilian Thuram equalized for France 30 seconds later.

Thuram, the French left back, later scored with a low side-volley for his second and last goal he scored in his record 142 appearances for France. Les Bleus held on to win, 2-1, not before having captain Laurent Blanc sent off in the 76th for a head-butt to Slaven Bilic's chin.

Blanc missed the final -- Frank Leboeuf took his place in the middle of the French defense -- but France won, 3-0 over Brazil, for its first and only World Cup title.

2. Les Bleus unbeaten in five meetings.

France has never lost to Croatia in their five meetings. The last time they faced each other was in 2011 when they played to a 0-0 tie at the Stade de France. Ten players from that game -- three for France, seven for Croatia -- are in Russia for the World Cup.

France vs. Croatia:
1998: France 2-1 (World Cup semifinals)
1999: France 3-0 (friendly)
2000: France 2-0 (friendly)
2004: Tie 2-2 (European Championship group stage)
2011: Tie 0-0 (friendly)

3. Varane vs. Modric, battle of teammates.

Fourteen players on the two finalists played their club ball this past season with members of the opposing team. French defender Raphael Varane and Croatian captain Luka Modric have played together for six seasons at Real Madrid and won four Champions League titles.

Club teammates:
Atletico Madrid (France -- Lucas Hernandez, Antoine Griezmann; Croatia -- Sime Vrsaljko)
Real Madrid (France -- Raphael Varane; Croatia -- Luka Modric, Mateo Kovacevic)
Barcelona (France -- Samuel Umiti, Ousmane Dembele; Croatia -- Ivan Rakitic)
Monaco (France -- Thomas Lemar; Croatia -- Danijel Subasic)
Juventus (France -- Blas Matuidi; Croatia -- Mario Mandzukic, Marko Pjaca)
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