History was made for Croatia on Wednesday in Moscow, while England suffered heartbreak at the Luzhniki Stadium.
In the end, the more tactically savvy and resilient side in Croatia advanced and it’s defined their entire World Cup campaign thus far.
Here are three winners and three losers from Wednesday’s 2018 World Cup semifinal.
The Croatian resolve
Croatia has dealt with countless issues on and off the pitch throughout the 2018 World Cup cycle. From the Dinamo Zagreb transfers scandal, to corruption within the Croatian federation and switching coaches right before the UEFA qualifying playoff, there has been no shortage of drama.
Even on the pitch, Croatia was behind the proverbial 8-ball after playing four hours of soccer in the knockout stage, with two penalty shootouts. There was no shootout on this occasion but another 120 minutes followed in the semis.
Yet, despite admitting that Croatia was “tired” before Wednesday’s game, Zlatko Dalic’s side looked like the fitter side by the final whistle.
Croatia was probably lucky to not concede at least twice. Harry Kane being flagged for offside before his two failed attempts in the first half bailed out the Croatians. Additionally, England was constantly breaking up passes in their own half before countering through acres of open space in the midfield.
But eventually, Croatia started to press England’s back line, forced mistakes and capitalized on two wonderful goals.
By comparison, France has breezed through to the final without breaking much of a sweat. Perhaps that will benefit Croatia if the game is tight.
Once Croatia gathered more pace with their attacks and swiftly distributed the ball, few players were as influential in the comeback as Ivan Perisic.
Yes, Perisic scored the equalizer and assisted the winner but it was his work off the ball that sparked Croatia …read more