What a day!
Watching the game during the day, playing some pick-up with former US National Team player Jimmy Conrad, and now writing the second to last World Cup story. Before we go into the recap, I will be writing on Cristiano Ronaldo’s transfer to Juventus tomorrow, so be on the lookout for that. Now, let’s get started with Croatia’s remarkable 2-1 victory over England.
The Good: It appeared to look good for England. Five minutes in, Kerian Tripper hit a wonderful free kick to give England the early lead and thought this may be a blowout. Harry Kane has the chance to bag his seventh goal, but banged it off the bar and giving Croatia life. After 30 minutes, you could see the game shift in Croatia’s favor with their stellar midfield, but actually being able to link up and create dangerous opportunities early in the second half. It paid off in the 68th minute as a cross from Sime Vrsaljko led to an Ivan Perisic strike in the box to tie the game. Perisic and Croatia almost took the lead three minutes later, but the ball his the post in the bottom corner to preserve the tie game. In the first extra time, John Stones almost broke the deadlock, but Vrsaljko was on the line to head it away. Mandzukic was less than half a step away for Croatia to take the lead, but Jordan Pickford came up huge to stop the opportunity 1 v 1. The second extra time brought the game winner as a header from Perisic led to a Mandzukic strike in the box and hit it to the far post past Pickford to give Croatia the 2-1 win and their first ever appearance in a World Cup final.
The Bad: England’s tactics 30 minutes on. It seemed that they were unable to keep up with Croatia. It’s as if they were begging for a set piece because that’s how many of their goals were scored this tournament. Gareth Southgate is a great manager to motivate his team and keep his team focused, but needs to understand when to change tactics as he was outcoached on the day. Harry Kane wasn’t his best self either, which was also a huge disappointment for someone who will most likely win the Golden Boot.
The Ugly: That England has to play with 10 men for most of the second extra period due to Trippier having a groin injury and they were out of subs. Other than that, England seemed to be sleeping defensively on crosses in the box and on set pieces, which is a problem against a team that will be more physical than you in the air. Finally, all the beer that was spilled from both fanbases was just sad.
Up Next: Croatia heads to their first World Cup final against France on Sunday while England and Belgium meet for the second time in the tournament to battle it out for third place.