Vice world champion Croatia goes into quarter-finals as a clear outsider

Vice world champion Croatia goes into quarter-finals as a clear outsider

Croatia dances, professional world smiles Boredom: This time in Qatar, only penalty kick thriller in round of 16 reminds us of 2018 World Cup final. “We can’t do without drama, we are very happy,” said world star Luka Modric after Monday’s win at Al-Wakra against outsiders Japan.

As in Russia four years ago, Croatia national keeper – this time Dominik Livkovic – saved three penalties and thus ensured a lucky passage to the quarter-finals, where the best World Cup team ever will take on Brazil on Friday (4pm). Is.

“It is not a 50-50 game, but we are not outsiders either. We will try to be good,” national coach Zlatko Dalic said after playing Croatian folk songs with his players before dinner in Doha on Tuesday. Told.

“Yes, it reminds me of Russia,” said Modric, 37, of Real Madrid. cheated through 16.

Al-Wakra’s successful penalty lottery after a 1–1 draw against Japan in extra time seems to parallel that time. Four years ago Croatia looked strong. Modric also admitted after a fast-paced performance against the busy Japanese: “We weren’t at our usual level.”

To be honest, the Croatians only came close to that in Qatar, beating Canada 4-1 in the preliminary round. Unlike Russia, when Modric and Co. won the preliminary round with three wins and 7:1 goals, the attack has so far lacked much power. The entire offense hinges on Modric’s stroke of genius.

Despite reaching the quarter-finals the shockingly slow and indifferent Croatians were blasted by the international press. “A shadow of the 2018 World Cup” wrote the “New York Times”, “Croatia is no longer shining”, the French “L’Equipe” and the Spanish “Marca” found that “Croatia was sterile”. Despite record world champions Brazil as an upcoming opponent, even international World Cup experts see no chance for Croatia following their performance in the quarter-finals. Former England goalscorer Alan Shearer said, “If I had to play him now I wouldn’t be particularly worried.”

The Croatia team cares very little. Confidence is rising and the memory of 2018, when arguably the first top-level opponent England came in the semi-finals (2-1 after extra time), inspires. “We’ve had this extra experience since then,” ex-Liverpool star Dejan Lovren enthused. We showed the world that we are really good.”

And coach Dalik is already trying to take any pressure off his team. “They have already gone down in the history of Croatian football. Reaching the quarter-finals is the third best result in Croatian history after third place in 1998 and second place in 2018.” (dpa)

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