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Croatia’s history and record at the FIFA World Cup – Best finish, biggest win, top goal scorer

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Croatia have just reached their second consecutive World Cup semifinal and will take on Argentina for a spot in the final. 

They have have fought their way through the World Cup in Qatar with experienced, wily players ensuring they stay in the game before keeping their heads in the resulting penalty shootouts. 

They managed just one shot on target in their quarter final victory over Brazil, when Bruno Petković’s effort took a significant deflection to beat Allison. Brazil, on the other hand, had 11 shots on target.

Can Croatia’s approach of holding the game, happy to let the result fall to the lottery of penalties take them all the way to their second World Cup final? 

MORE: Who is Croatia star Dominik Livakovic? Goalkeeper produces penalty heroics

We all know the success of the Croatian team in recent times, but what does their full history at FIFA World Cups look like?

Croatia World Cup Record

Since gaining independence in 1991 and thus no longer competing as Yugoslavia, Croatia have participated in six World Cups.

They first featured at a World Cup finals in France in 1998 – just seven years since their inception as a national football team. 

They could hardly have asked for a better World Cup debut as a nation, finishing third overall after falling to the hosts in the semifinals. 

Croatia qualified for the next two World Cups in 2002 and 2006, but failed to escape the group stage on both occasions. In the latter, they didn’t win a single match.

After failing to qualify for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa and another disappointing group stage exit in 2014, Croatia were due a run deep into the knockout stages. 

In 2018, Luka Modrić led his country to their first ever World Cup final, exactly 20 years on from their last knockout stage berth.

Year Host Stage Reached Games Goals
1998 France Semifinals 7 11
2002 South Korea & Japan Group Stage 3 2
2006 Germany Group Stage 3 2
2014 Brazil Group Stage 3 6
2018 Russia Final 7 14
2022 Qatar TBD 5 5

Croatia best finish at a World Cup

Croatia’s shock run to the final in Russia is their greatest ever finish at a World Cup finals. They knocked out Denmark, Russia and England to book their date with France in the final. They were well beaten 4-2 in the end but not before they could do their nation proud and exceed many expectations. 

Croatia biggest win at a World Cup

Interestingly, Croatia’s biggest win came in a tournament where they failed to escape the group. In Brazil in 2014, Croatia beat Cameroon 4-0 with goals from Ivica Olić, Ivan Perišić, and a brace from Mario Mandžukić. 

Croatia top scorer at the World Cup

The title of Croatia’s top scorer at the World Cup is held jointly by both Davor Šuker and Perišić, who have both scored six World Cup goals. 

Perišić will be hoping to bag a goal or two more at this year’s tournament to claim that spot for himself. 

Rank Player Goals
1 Davor Šuker 6
Ivan Perišić 6
3 Mario Mandžukić 5
4 Andrej Kramarić 3
5 Robert Prosinečki 2
Ivica Olić 2
Luka Modrić 2


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