In October 2021 France became the second country to win the Uefa Nations League, coming from behind to beat Spain 2-1 in the final in Italy – thanks to goals from Karim Benzema and Kylian Mbappe. But the defence of their crown did not get off to the best start.
Les Bleus were placed in Group A1 alongside Denmark, Austria and Croatia and faced the Danes in their opening game, a repeat of the 2018 World Cup group stage game which ended goalless en route to France winning the competition. Didier Deschamps’ men took the lead through Benzema just after half time but would eventually fall to an Andreas Cornelius brace, handing France their first defeat since a 2-0 defeat to Finland in November 2020 and first competitive loss since June 2019 when Turkey beat them 2-0 in qualifying for Euro 2020.
When these sides met in the 2018 World Cup final, Croatia will have hoped it would have been the start of their ascent to the top table of international football, but they haven’t really built on it. In the first Uefa Nations League they were saved from relegation by a restructuring and last time out they were saved by goal difference, losing five of their six matches.
Since then, Croatia have reached the last 16 of Euro 2020 and secured their spot at another World Cup, topping their qualifying group but being handed a tough draw for Qatar, facing Morocco, Canada and Belgium. And their long-term preparation has not got off to the best start, with Zlatko Dalic’s side routinely beaten 3-0 at home by Austria in their first game, an early look at the struggles they may have once Luka Modric retires.
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Croatia vs France match stats
Although France took the lead against Denmark only to lose, Les Bleus haven’t gone ahead in too many matches recently. In fact, France have conceded the first goal in eight of their past 14 games since the start of Euro 2020.
But France will back themselves to come from behind, as they managed in each of the eight matches (five draws, three wins), and Benzema will likely be key. The Real Madrid striker is favourite to win the Ballon d’Or and has scored 50 goals in 54 games for club and country since the start of the 2021/22 season.
14 October 2020 – Croatia 1-2 France – Uefa Nations League
8 September 2020 – France 4-2 Croatia – Uefa Nations League
15 July 2018 – France 4-2 Croatia – World Cup
29 March 2011 – France 0-0 Croatia – Friendly
17 June 2004 – Croatia 2-2 France – Euro 2004
France have never lost against Croatia, winning six of their eight meetings including the 2018 World Cup final. France also did the double over Croatia in the group stage of the last Uefa Nations League tournament, en route to winning the title.