• Sunday, Sep 20, 2020
  • Last Update : 11:39 pm

Tactical switch transforms Croatia from zero to hero

  • Published at 10:10 am July 12th, 2018
Perisic-1531360960486.gif
Croatia's Ivan Perisic shoots at goal during their World Cup semi-final against England in Moscow Wednesday Reuters

Croatia ruthlessly exposed England's limitations in the second half of the World Cup semi-final Wednesday as Zlatko Dalic's side fought back to secure a famous 2-1 extra-time victory.

While it is players who win matches there can be little doubt that a tactical switch from the canny Dalic transformed the game.

Pushing wide players Ante Rebic and Ivan Perisic into more advanced roles was not the most complex move but it was one that turned the match on its head.

Gareth Southgate's England had made it to the last four by playing a brand of progressive passing football and there was enough of that in the opening 45 minutes, after Kieran Trippier's fifth-minute goal, to keep them comfortably on top.

Croatia struggled from the outset. They gifted England a huge amount of space in midfield and allowed wing-backs Ashley Young and Trippier to push forward and provide options.

More worryingly for Dalic, the basic qualities of his side simply were not there. The passing was too often inaccurate, the defence struggled to cope with the pace of Raheem Sterling and there was precious little support for Mario Mandzukic in attack.

For a team who have been consistently well-organised and effective throughout this tournament, it was a strange state of affairs but crucially they were able to turn it around and England had no answer.

Rebic and Perisic were pushed higher and with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic clearly under instructions to feed them quickly, Trippier and Young suddenly had their hands full.

The early success of the wide-men in pushing back England's wing-backs, also gave the opportunity to Croatia's full backs Sime Vrsaljko and Ivan Strinic to get forward more.

With Trippier and Young facing a double threat, England's midfield began to be stretched with Jordan Henderson taking on an unmanageable work-load and Jesse Lingard and Dele Alli more pre-occupied with helping out the defenders than asking questions of Croatia's back-line.

The momentum of the game had changed and when Perisic equalised for Croatia in the 68th minute it was no real surprise.

England had no answer -- neither on the field as their passing game was replaced by hasty clearances and long balls forward nor on the bench as Southgate was unable to make the switches that might have changed the game.

"The general all-round perception was that this is a new-look England who have changed their ways of punting long balls upfield but when we pressed them it turned out that they haven't," Croatia full back Vrsaljko said.

When things clicked for Croatia they had the quality of Modric and Rakitic, who finally began to dictate the tempo and flow of the game as many had expected they would.

Southgate's only response was to take off Sterling for Marcus Rashford, keeping the same formation and failing to tackle the areas in which Croatia were dominating.

England's lack of a genuine creative midfielder is not a new problem and Southgate has done well to devise a system that can compensate for that weakness.

But his inexperienced team were unable to recapture the passing and movement and it was simply their fight that took them into extra time.

Croatia were looking like the team who beat Argentina 3-0, their tails were up and Mandzukics's opportunist finish secured a victory few could deny was deserved.

They now they have the chance to use their tactical intelligence and mental strength against a formidable France team Sunday.

54
53
blogger sharing button blogger
buffer sharing button buffer
diaspora sharing button diaspora
digg sharing button digg
douban sharing button douban
email sharing button email
evernote sharing button evernote
flipboard sharing button flipboard
pocket sharing button getpocket
github sharing button github
gmail sharing button gmail
googlebookmarks sharing button googlebookmarks
hackernews sharing button hackernews
instapaper sharing button instapaper
line sharing button line
linkedin sharing button linkedin
livejournal sharing button livejournal
mailru sharing button mailru
medium sharing button medium
meneame sharing button meneame
messenger sharing button messenger
odnoklassniki sharing button odnoklassniki
pinterest sharing button pinterest
print sharing button print
qzone sharing button qzone
reddit sharing button reddit
refind sharing button refind
renren sharing button renren
skype sharing button skype
snapchat sharing button snapchat
surfingbird sharing button surfingbird
telegram sharing button telegram
tumblr sharing button tumblr
twitter sharing button twitter
vk sharing button vk
wechat sharing button wechat
weibo sharing button weibo
whatsapp sharing button whatsapp
wordpress sharing button wordpress
xing sharing button xing
yahoomail sharing button yahoomail