World Cup 2022: Croatia makes a bold statement by thrashing Canada

World Cup 2022: Croatia makes a bold statement by thrashing Canada

Croatia, last tournament’s finalists, finally got off their World Cup mark by registering an impressive victory against Canada by 4-1. It wasn’t an easy night for Croatian as the final score would suggest, but it was a game that finally woke the ‘sleeping giant.

There aren’t many teams at this year’s World Cup that have better midfield than Croatia, but somehow players like Modric, Brozovic, and Kovacic didn’t prove their worth against Morocco. Although to be fair, many pundits disrespected the Moroccans who showed how good they are by beating FIFA’s second-ranked team Belgium in the earlier game in the group and thus putting themselves in a position to advance into the playoffs against last-placed Canada in their final game of the group stage.

However, the Croatians were the ones who had to make sure that their tournament won’t end in the first stage, and they still have work to do. Against Canada, they showed there are things in that team that required fixing, especially defensive-wise.

Celtic right-back Josip Juranovic failed to close down his side of the field when Alphonso Davies scored the first goal of the game early, and then made several mistakes that could have cost Croatia another goal, or two. Juranovic couldn’t stop Davis from demolishing him, until the rest of the team picked up the slack, and helped him.

Croatia manager Zlatko Dalic still plays Dejan Lovren as his central defender, pairing him with Josko Gvardiol who already is one of the best defenders in the world, and could become the biggest transfer for a CD ever next summer. He was close to doing just that a few months ago when Chelsea came calling.

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Croatia found its striker partnership

The biggest weakness in Croatia’s team is their striking lineup. At least, it was until the Canada match. Zlatko Dalic decided to partner seemingly unreplaceable Andrej Kramaric with Marko Livaja, and it worked. Kramaric scored a couple of goals, while Livaja’s strike in the first half was a thing of beauty.

Tottenham wide player Ivan Perisic wasn’t at his best but is still a valuable piece for Croatia, and what he can do is virtually impossible to replicate by any other Croatia player. His ‘motor’ is unstoppable, and when he runs, the whole team follows.

When it comes to the midfield, Luka Modric was once again the constant that Croatia always needs, he wasn’t superb, but he did what he always does, closing down the middle, and making sure everyone is on the same page. But, one player that needs mentioning is Mateo Kovacic. The Chelsea midfielder was terrific, he made multiple runs through the middle leaving Canada’s captain Atiba Hutchinson in the dust. He was Croatia’s best midfielder, and it seems he is just getting started.

The group is still wide open when it comes to advancing into the last 16. Canada is out without any chance of progressing, while Croatia and Morocco have the upper hand against Belgium. In the last matchday, Morocco will be the big favorite against Canada, while Croatia needs only a point against out-of-sorts Belgium to get them into the playoff stage.

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