“I prepared everything, but not being prepared was a true striker.”
These are the feelings that Zlatko Dalic (55), coach of the Croatian national soccer team, expressed on the 14th after failing to advance to the Qatar World Cup finals.
Croatia faced Argentina that day and had a good chance to score, but lost 0-3. With 61% ball possession and 9 shots, he was ahead of Argentina (8). Free kicks were also attempted 16 times, twice that of Argentina. Croatia, runners-up at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, had to be content with reaching the semifinals this time. 안전놀이터
Croatia has strikers such as Ivan Perisic (Tottenham) and Andrei Kramaric (Hoffenheim), but it is difficult to see them as the best strikers in the world. With two goals, Kramaric is Croatia’s top scorer at the World Cup in Qatar. It is far behind the main strikers of other teams that have reached the semifinals, such as Lionel Messi (Argentina) and Kylian Mbafe (France, more than 5 goals). Croatia only scored 6 goals in 6 games until the semifinals.
There are no clear killers, but Croatia do not accept defeat easily. After passing through the group stage with 1 win and 2 draws, they advanced to the semifinals by beating Japan in the round of 16 and Brazil in the quarterfinals after a penalty shoot-out. From the round of 16 of the 2018 World Cup in Russia to the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Qatar, five overtimes were played. One win was won in overtime and the other four were laughed at after penalty shootouts. Defender Borna Sosa (24, Stuttgart) said after defeating Brazil in the quarterfinals, “I know nobody likes to play against us. It will be really difficult to beat us with good players and strong mentality.” . The New York Times reported in a recent report that “Croatia’s team color is not to beat the opponent, but to hold out for a long time.”
Croatia’s signature veteran midfielder Luka Modric (37) will leave the World Cup stage after this tournament. Modric, who has been playing for Real Madrid since 2012, won the UEFA Champions League in 2018 and runner-up in the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and won the ‘Ballon d’Or’ that year. We bid farewell to the World Cup with the report card of the semifinals for the second consecutive time.
Croatia’s first World Cup as an independent country was held in France in 1998. With a team composed of last-generation stars from the former Yugoslavia, such as Dabo Suker, Robert Prosinecki, and Zvominir Boban, they unexpectedly came in third. Croatia participated in the 2002 Korea-Japan World Cup and the 2006 Germany World Cup one after another, and skipped the 2010 South African tournament before stepping on the stage for three consecutive World Cups until 2022.
The New York Times said, “Almost every young Croatian player spends the early years of his playing career at one of Croatia’s two greatest clubs, Dinamo Zagreb and Haiduk Split.” means,” he said. “Veterans like Modric are setting an example and sharing their wisdom with younger players,” Dalic said.
Croatia, with a population of more than 4 million, has many good soccer talents and they still have a strong spirit. Small but strong Croatian football’s anticipation for the World Cup continues.