For all its talent and experience, this Croatia team has had its nose busted open plenty of times. Right back down to the last game, against Denmark, when Luka Modric's late penalty miss shifted the momentum Dane-ward, and for a minute, we believed Kasper was going to follow in Big Papa Schmeichel's footsteps.
On Saturday, on the banks of the Black Sea, Croatia had plenty more knockdowns. First, coach Zlatko Dalic's uber-offensive set-up -- two center-forwards, two wingers, Ivan Rakitic and Luka Modric on their own in the middle of the park -- blew up in his face.
"My idea was to go at them with four attackers, thinking they would sit back and we could play between the lines," Dalic said. "But instead, they surprised us by pressing high and being aggressive. And we were undermanned in midfield. [Goalkeeper Danijel] Subasic basically ended up as our playmaker, and we were left to only hit long balls. That's not how Croatia play. That's not our style."
Dalic will engage in tactical ju-jitsu from time to time (Gareth Southgate, take note), but on this occasion, he was outwitted and eventually had to bring on another midfielder, Marcelo Brozovic, to halt the slide. Before that, though, another hammer-blow.
Right off one of those high-intensity pressing actions that Russia didn't resort to against Spain, Denis Cheryshev received the ball from Artem Dzyuba, power-upped into space and uncorked a 35-yard missile that beat Subasic. The crowd roared as Dalic ran his fingers through his hair, and a dejected Subasic, who should have done better, stared into the heavens.
malaysia online casino gameplay
malaysia online casino playtech
malaysia online casino soccer
malaysia online casino gamingsoft
malaysia online casino wft
malaysia online casino 918kiss