World Cup 2022 staff guides half 23: Croatia | Croatia


This text is a part of the Guardian’s World Cup 2022 Specialists’ Community, a cooperation between among the greatest media organisations from the 32 international locations who certified. theguardian.com is operating previews from two international locations every day within the run-up to the match kicking off on 20 November.

The plan

The scenario heading right into a match has by no means been this clear. 9 of the 11 beginning locations really feel cemented; the remaining two are anyone’s guess – however not as a result of there are not any good choices, fairly the opposite. Zlatko Dalic has three or 4 gamers competing for every of these (right-wing and centre-forward) and can determine who will get the nod on a game-to-game foundation, relying on the opponent and participant type. What is especially pleasing, given that previously the supervisor had been identified to have interaction in loads of pointless experiments, is that he’s now absolutely settled on an strategy and has made that very clear.

“I gained’t change the best way we play,” he stated forward of the deciding Nations League matches that in the end ended with Croatia profitable a bunch consisting of France, Denmark and Austria. “When you may have a midfield like ours, it’s important to try to maneuver the ball and create your possibilities by possession. We should play out of the again and when midfielders don’t must drop deep to get the ball we’re extra harmful. We’ll press when doable, and when not, we’ll defend in a block.”

Fast Information

Croatia group fixtures

Present

v Morocco Wed 23 Nov, 10am Al Bayt Stadium

v Canada Solar 27 Nov, 4pm Khalifa Worldwide Stadium

v Belgium Thu 1 Dec, 3pm Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium

All occasions GMT

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The 4-3-3 formation is unquestionably Dalic’s main alternative, with 4-2-3-1 as a backup. And though the midfield trio have greater than 300 caps between them, there have been modifications elsewhere – notably in defence, with beginning centre-backs aged 22 and 20 who’re far more cell and assured on the ball than their veteran predecessors. Many of the 2018 silver-medal profitable squad has been changed and there are essential additions even since final yr’s Euros, equivalent to Josip Sutalo and Borna Sosa.

The coach

In some way all of it fell into place for Zlatko Dalic. He’s been by some miserable occasions and embarrassing defeats because the final World Cup, as indicators of complacency and a rift throughout the squad took maintain. Nevertheless, he managed to reunite and reshape the staff with contemporary additions, rising with renewed confidence and public approval – though not fairly just like the 2018 mass worship. His priest-like public persona and protracted speak of humility could have worn a bit of skinny however he’s actually not meek: simply ask Milan’s Ante Rebic, who has not been part of the staff since Euro 2020.

Star participant

Luka Modric. Cliches on ageing like wine apart, the 37-year-old captain continues to be absolutely deserving of his undoubted standing because the staff’s chief, its greatest star and MVP. You will note him work simply as exhausting and run at the least as a lot as any of his youthful teammates. And if time has slowed him down in any respect, it has not taken its toll on the pace of his pondering or on his creativity, that are as unbelievable as they ever have been.

Luka Modric celebrates Croatia’s success in the Nations League
Luka Modric stays a peerless playmaker at age 37. {Photograph}: Gonzalo Fuentes/Reuters

Unsung hero

Marcelo Brozovic was unreliable, inconsistent and with no absolutely outlined place or function within the staff; now he’s just about the alternative in all these points. With time, Brozovic has settled within the holding midfielder place and Croatia have benefited as a result of they’ve lacked that sort of participant previously (actually earlier than the 2018 World Cup, which is when he made it his area). It’s the place Brozovic’s seemingly countless stamina works greatest with each his bodily and technical capacities. Just about irreplaceable.

Possible lineup

Croatia probable lineup

Qatar stance

The darkish facet of the World Cup has been documented in numerous sections of the media, albeit normally with out suggesting the gamers ought to concern themselves with such issues, which they don’t. None of them have spoken up – and neither have the followers, actually. As for the folks in cost, they not solely despatched the staff to Doha for a pleasant match in March however in September assembled an impromptu under-23 number of gamers who didn’t make the senior or under-21 squad for a pleasant towards Qatar’s senior staff. Croatia gained 3-0.

Nationwide anthem

Initially a mid-Nineteenth-century poem by diplomat turned poet Antun Mihanovic, and composed by Josip Runjanin, on the time a younger navy cadet who additionally dabbled in music. It gained wider reputation within the twentieth century and 4 of the unique 14 verses have been tailored into the nationwide anthem titled Lijepa Nasa Domovino (Our Stunning Homeland). The lyrics comprise no battle cries and nor does the anthem they deal with God; it may be summarised as “Our land is so good and we like it.” Since 1991 some politicians and all athletes have been singing it with their proper hand on their hearts.

All-time cult hero

Ivica Olic. “What does a defender do when he sees Ivica Olic doing stepovers?” the joke went on the peak of the ahead’s profession. “He politely waits till Olic finishes, then takes the ball.” Possibly Olic would have struggled to go previous a chunk of backyard furnishings together with his dribbling abilities however he might outrun anybody – or at the least he would attempt to, time and again. Followers beloved him for it, as a result of he was old fashioned and a real fighter. Since 2017, when he made an virtually immediate transition after his taking part in profession got here to an finish, Olic has been the assistant supervisor on Dalic’s employees – interrupted solely by a quick stint as CSKA Moscow head coach final yr.

Aleksandar Holiga writes for Telesport. Observe him right here on Twitter.





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