As Argentina disintegrated and Germany booked their flight tickets back home, it only highlighted some of the struggles faced by renowned teams at this World Cup. Russia 2018 has largely seen the traditional elites stumble and the underdogs rumble to alter the footballing landscape football fans have been accustomed too.
Argentina for that matter has been at the heart of the headlines with rumours of infighting and player mutiny. When La Albiceleste took on Croatia; who are no underdogs by the way, many expected a tough fight between the two, instead it was so one sided with Croatia dominating. While many question marks were pointed towards the men in blue and white, they forgot how simply splendid the Croats were.
Make no mistakes about it, this Croatian team are built to win given how balanced the squad is and they have a genuine chance of bettering their third placed 1998 World Cup finish. Indeed the strength of this team lays it in its midfield with Luka Modric being the heartbeat of the squad. Joining Modric is Ivan Rakitic and Inter’s Marcelo Brozovic and there you have a solid midfield that ran past Mascherano as if he was invisible.
Additionally, having the likes of Ivan Perisic, Dejan Lovren and Mario Mandzukic whom Croatia coach; Zlatko Dalić described as the soul of the team helps your cause greatly too. Significantly it’s clear to see the Eastern European side has a talented generation of players capable of making an indelible mark in the tournament. This group of players have been together since Euro 2008 and Russia 2018 could be the last chance for many of these players.
Indeed the omens are looking good for the Vatreni whom alongside Uruguay are the only two teams in the entire tournament to top their group with maximum points. So far they have only conceded one goal in the three matches they played. Moreover they have an average of 53% possession in those games with 81% pass accuracy while scoring an average of 2.3 goals per match. This is a team that is always in control and dictates the tempo of the game.
Croatian teams that enter the World Cup have always been compared to the 98 team featuring Davor Suker and Zvonimir Boban. Well that could all change soon in 2018 and the image of captain Modric holding aloft the World Cup isn’t a far-fetched one. But for now mark your calendars for a nearer date because a date with Denmark becons.