Another World Cup semi-final, but are shot-shy Croatia actually any good?

It is difficult to find anyone – other than those in the neighboring country – who has something other than the most respect for Croatia as a football country. Their first World Cup as an independent nation was only in 1998, and in both competitions Seven of them have reached the semi-finals three times.

It is notable for a country with a population of less than 4 million (half of London) and what is more remarkable considering that Croatia has always had an intention to play football based on Positive with a player-based midfielder rather than a destroyer.

But it is still right to ask the question that seems to take their results at the 2018 and now 2022 World Cups too seriously: Is Croatia really good?

In their six qualifiers in both games, Croatia’s record reads: Draw, Draw, Win by one goal after overtime, lose, draw, draw. Of course, all four of those draws were won by a series of penalties. Croatia’s cards are constantly looking for a way forward, despite not winning much in 90 minutes.

Perhaps a more reasonable question is whether Croatia is better or worse than the team that lost to France in the final. Four years ago.

In scoring, Dominik Livakovic was enjoying a great game involving stopping shots, but he seemed a little nervous with the ball at his feet.

Defender Josko Gvardiol’s appearance gave Croatia more speed and ball-playing ability, as well as another strong defender. Current left-back Borna Sosa offers more forward than his Russian counterpart Ivan Strinic, while Josip Juranovic will not be considered the equalizer of Sime Vrsaljko 2018 ahead of the game. Probably Croatian. The best player in the quarter-finals against Brazil on Friday, holding Vinicius Junior well while also flying forward.

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Their midfield in Qatar is similar to 2018 in terms of staff, style and quality. Luka Modric can not keep his distance, he is now 37 years old, but still as influential as ever in Terms of competition management.


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However, the Croatian team is definitely weaker than the battle zone.

Ivan Perisic is still a threat to run and attack on long distance, but Croatia lacks quality in two positions: Front and right. In particular, they do not provide the speed behind, which feels like a waste of time, probably the most technically skilled midfield left in the game.

In the other nine positions, coach Zlatko Dalic knows his best team and remains unchanged with one exception: Sosa missed the 16th round match against Japan due to illness by Borna Barisic.

But then Dalic did not know what to do in the remaining two positions – it was an important version of those ancient World Cup strategy issues when the only question related was what was happening. Up in the attack.

Four years ago, Croatia had Mario Mandzukic as striker and Ante Rebic on the right. Mandzukic, now retired at the age of 36, was Croatia’s head coach in the tournament, while Rebic was dropped from 26 strong teams after falling out of Dalic. In the last third round, Croatia had less punches than in 2018.

This is how Dalic tried to deal with that attack.

Croatia’s first World Cup, a boring goalless draw with Morocco, who ended up joining them in the semi-finals, proved their problem briefly. The center-back and Perisic combined well, but center-back Andrej Kramaric barely made the cut (no one in Morocco’s box was substituted after the 71st minute) as right-back Nikola Vlasic went in to Open space for Juranovic, but does not look completely comfortable in that role.

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Things look better in the second group match against Canada four days later – in fact this is the only match Croatia has won completely in Qatar 2022 so far.

Kramaric plays right now with Marko Livaja, Croatia’s all-time leading goalscorer in The last 18 months, having fallen deep to connect the game well. Kramaric scored two of their four goals and possibly more, while Livaja scored the second from the edge of the box to take the lead just before half-time. Croatia has a business.

Therefore, against Belgium in the final, Dalic kept the same approach to attack.

This one is a bit difficult to analyze and Croatia has little threat of attack but is also happy with another Nile – Nil sent They are promoted to the next round in Group F. Of course, being happy with the lottery has become their default approach.

For the last 16 match against Japan, Dalic changed things.

Kramaric was used again from the right by Bruno Petkovic, who played in the middle this time and did not participate too much. Twenty-four touches in the Japanese box were replaced after 62 minutes). The table below shows that Perisic climbed the highest on the pitch with an average position that briefly summarizes how he provided the greatest attacking threat, as evidenced by his excellent goalscoring prowess. Make it 1-1.

And then came the match against Brazil, where there was another approach – Kramaric returned the lead with Mario Pasalic kicking in from the right position.

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Although he was not strong enough to attack, Pasalic did play an effective role, tracking left-back Danilo as he drifted inside and opened the scoring for the overlapping Juranovic.

Kramaric was less dangerous and Croatia’s most memorable center-forward contribution came from Petkovic’s replacement in the 72nd minute. First, he kicked two great defenders on the left and scored a corner for Marcelo Brozovic, who caught fire. He then scored the equalizer late in extra time, and while this owed a significant deflection, it proved his ability to find space in the box when the ball bounced wide. He could return to the starting XI against Argentina on Tuesday.

Finally, Croatia did not provide enough attack threat in this match.

In terms of expected goals, they posted a figure of less than 1.0 in games against Morocco, Belgium and Brazil, about 1.0 in the first 90 minutes against Japan and created a serious chance against Canada. They lack a lot of speed and their midfield ball-playing ability is used primarily as a defense rather than an attacking weapon.

And yet, it is very difficult to disappoint them with their success – despite their weaknesses, they are still well-disciplined and well-organized.

In addition, as other previous champions – France in 1998 and 2018, in particular, show you do not always need a top striker to win the World Cup.

If Croatia can control their next two games and keep a clean sheet, they can go one better than four years ago.


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(Photo: Hector Vivas – FIFA / FIFA via Getty Images)


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