Croatia avenged their Nations League defeat to Spain earlier in September as they secured a close 3-2 victory in Zagreb on Thursday night. The 2018 World Cup finalists had come into the game in need of back-to-back wins to seal their progress into the finals of the competition and they managed to reach the halfway stage after Tin Jedvaj starred with his first two goals for the country.
With the triumph, Croatia can progress to the competition’s finals next summer, should they get better of England at the Wembley Stadium this weekend. Likewise, Gareth Southgate’s side can progress with a win of their own while a draw remains the only outcome through which La Roja can remain in the competition next year.
Two things we learned:
Croatia’s never-say-die attitude: Croatia had a tough introduction to the Nations League as they were thumped 6-0 by Spain in Elche and thereafter, there had been doubts whether the nation can show the kind of form exhibited during the summer World Cup. However, they managed to sort themselves out with a hard-fought goalless draw against England in closed-doors last month and against Spain, they went toe-to-toe in terms of their attacking display. At 2-2, Croatia continued to pressurise La Roja looking for the winner and they ultimately prevailed after Jedvaj was on the right end of a rebound from a David de Gea save in the 93rd minute of the encounter. Croatia’s triumph has opened up the group with all three teams having the chance to progress with one more game remaining.
David de Gea with another questionable performance: De Gea has often provided a controversy with respect to the national team where his performances have been far off from those at the club level. Against Croatia, the Spaniard could not do much for the first two goals conceded where the backline was largely at fault for the positioning but right at the end of the game, he happened to make the unforced mistake which cost the nation dearly. Croatian teenager Josip Brekalo forced De Gea into a low save towards his left in stoppage time but his interception unfortunately parried the ball into Jedvaj’s path for an easy winner. With Kepa Arrizabalaga waiting in the wings, surely Luis Enrique may consider a change between the sticks with De Gea being culpable for the odd mistake of late.
Image – Getty