Fa­mous dive in last France-Croatia cup match

A dive in 1998 semi­fi­nals caused drama as Les Bleus won it all

Yuma Sun - - SUN SPORTS -

MOSCOW — One of the most no­to­ri­ous dives in soc­cer his­tory took pace the last time France played Croatia in the World Cup.

Les Bleus led Croatia by a goal in their 1998 semi­fi­nal at Stade de France when French de­fender Lau­rent Blanc gave Slaven Bilic a slight shove on the chest in jostling dur­ing a free kick. Bilic shouted and slammed the palm of his hand into his face, as if he had been struck on the head. Span­ish ref­eree Jose Manuel Gar­cia bought the act in the pre-video re­view age, and Blanc was ejected for the first time in his ca­reer.

De­spite see­ing the re­play after­ward, FIFA re­fused to

8 a.m. Sunday, FOX

re­tract the penalty. Blanc missed the fi­nal, when France beat Brazil 3-0 for its only World Cup ti­tle.

Croatia ad­vanced to its first World Cup fi­nal with a 2-1 ex­tra-time win over Eng­land on Wed­nes­day night, a day af­ter Les Bleus beat Bel­gium 1-0. The match two decades ago re­mains on the mind of cur­rent Croatia coach Zlatko Dalic.

“Maybe the dear Lord is giv­ing us an op­por­tu­nity to set­tle a score,” he said.

A vic­tory in the fi­nal for the na­tion known for its red-and-white check­ered jer­seys would be the na­tion’s great­est sport­ing mo­ment since break­ing from Yu­goslavia to be­come an in­de­pen­dent state in 1991 — a year af­ter its na­tional soc­cer team started play­ing.

France is a Euro­pean soc­cer power, its team able draw from a pop­u­la­tion of about 65 mil­lion.

“They have upped their game over the past sev­eral games,” Ivan Perisic said.

Croatia has just over 4 mil­lion peo­ple, the fourths­mall­est of the 32 World Cup teams ahead of Panama, Uruguay and Ice­land. It has a chance to be the least-pop­u­lous na­tion to win since Uruguay took the ti­tle in 1950, when it was a na­tion of just over 2 mil­lion.

“We’re a small coun­try with so many suc­cess­ful sports peo­ple,” de­fender De­jan Lovren said through a trans­la­tor. “Over the last cou­ple of days peo­ple have rec­og­nized that.”

Les Blues won the Eu-

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

FRANCE’S PAUL POGBA ses­sion Thurs­day. drib­bles the ball dur­ing a train­ing

France vs. Croatia

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