On this day 25 years ago, Ćiro Blažević first sat on the bench of the Croatia national football team and achieved a victory in Valencia, which resonated throughout the world. Croatia, then the 125th best team in the world, defeated Spain 2:0. The national team of Spain, at that time, held the seventh place on the FIFA ranking, reports Index.hr on March 23, 2019.
Around 40,000 Spanish fans gathered at the nearby Mestalla stadium and expected a victory of their team against Croatia, who was just entering international football and was labeled as a complete unknown to the wider football public. Even more impressive was that Spain had a series of 20 consecutive victories.
The match in Valencia started perfectly for Croatia. Prosinečki pushed the ball from the center to the opponent’s box and found the lone Šuker on the left, who struck from a poor first touch. Luckily, the ball came back to Prosinečki on the other side, who shot from 16 meters out and past the Spanish goalkeeper Zubizarreta for 1:0.
In the 51st minute, Croatia increased its lead. Mornar soared down the right side and crossed the ball in the middle where he found the head of Šuker who struck from seven meters. It should also be noted that Dražen Ladić defended the penalty of Aitor “Txiki” Begiristain Mujika, today’s director of Manchester City, two minutes later. Pep Guardiola, the current manager of Manchester City, also played in this game.
In just one month, Croatia jumped 22 places on the FIFA ranking, and in April 1994, shared the 103rd place in the world.
This is how the Croatia national team looked against Spain 25 years ago:
Dražen Ladić, Nikola Jerkan, Igor Štimac, Slaven Bilić, Janko Janković, Robert Prosinečki, Stipe Andrijašević, Aljoša Asanović, Robert Jarni, Alen Bokšić, Davor Šuker, Dubravko Pavličić, Ivica Mornar, Ante Miše, Goran Vlaović. Because of an injury, the legendary captain Zvonimir Boban could not play.
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