Croatia have concluded their relaxed international break in Qatar with a 2-1 victory over Bulgaria, following a 1-1 draw against Slovenia. Manager Zlatko Dalić experimented with a 3-5-2 formation in both matches, sparking a debate amongst Croatians about the Vatreni’s tactics going into the 2022 World Cup. Should Croatia continue with this new setup, or revert back to a classic 4-3-3 for the tournament in winter? Let’s dig deep to find out:
- Andrej Kramarić can play as a secondary striker. This role compliments his fantastic dribbling abilities and gives him a lot more space to work. Kramarić is a creator, and this position allows him to drive the ball forward and take control of the attack. If Dalić can manage to field a reliable finisher at the highest striker role, Croatia’s offense will pose a serious threat in the World Cup.
- Josip Juranović will become a critical member of the attack. Since his days at Hajduk, Juranović has been known as an offensive fullback. His excellent speed, crossing, and ability to track back makes him perfect for the role.
- Joško Gvardiol can stretch his game out wide. Gvardiol performs at his best in a 3-CB formation, due to his unique capability to progress the ball up the pitch. His vision and passing is excellent, and could be put to serious use if he is given freedom on the pitch.
- Two strikers will be pressing the center-backs at all times. This limits the running that each forward has to do, boosting their stamina in the long run. The tactic will also apply much more pressure on a backline that enjoys knocking the ball around with no hurry.
- Borna Sosa will almost certainly not be a starter. Sosa is a large part of the future of Croatia’s defense, and is currently one of the best wingbacks in the Bundesliga. Many large clubs, including Bayern Munich, Chelsea, and Liverpool, have been linked to the young left-back. Although the 3-5-2 formation suits Sosa perfectly, due to his wonderful offensive abilities, Perišić is a definite starter down the left flank.
- Croatia does not currently have enough reliable center-backs. Besides for Gvardiol, who is still very young, Ćaleta-Car, Pongračić, Lovren, and Vida cannot be 100% trusted due to lack of experience, skill, and game IQ. Although the next generation of center-backs looks incredible, thet Vatreni’s current conditions make the formation a bit risky.
- Ante Budimir would most likely take a starting position away from a more talented player such as Lovro Majer or Mario Pašalić. Budimir isn’t terrible, but he surely isn’t anything special nor a serious attacking threat on the biggest stage. However, Majer and Pašalić are hot prospects that know how to put the ball into the net and assist consistently. Sadly, neither Majer or Pašalić are suited for a sole striker role.
- Majer and Perišić (or anyone else at LW and RW) can cover for Sosa and Juranović when they advance the ball up the pitch or make overlapping runs. As stated before, both wingbacks for the Vatreni enjoy spending time in the attacking third. This ensures that our backline is always strong in numbers and not vulnerable, as opposed to the 3-5-2 where the number of defenders is unpredictable at times.
- Sosa and Majer will both most likely start. They both offer a fresh approach to the net and a great range of skills.
- The formation is very basic, easy to adapt to, and has been used many times in the past by Dalić. There would be no need to make any drastic adjustments in the months leading up to the World Cup.
- Perišić and Sosa would make a fantastic duo down the left side of the pitch. Both players are extremely technical, excellent crossers, and pure creators. I would pay to watch that combination in the World Cup.
- Brozović would orchestrate the middle of the pitch, providing Kovačić and Modrić more freedom. As a defensive midfielder, Brozović would drop slightly above the two center-backs and act as a general while his two other midfield partners focus on offensive production and defensive duties. We all know how special Luka is when he has several yards of free space in the attacking third.
- Kramarić would most likely start as the lone striker. This past week alone, Kramarić scored twice and drew a penalty as a secondary striker. Could he carry that form over to a new formation that leaves him isolated up top? His inconsistency for the Vatreni makes that very questionable. That’s the only serious con of this formation, but detrimental to the entire squad due to Croatia’s miserable striker problems.
Which formation do you think Dalić should field for the 2022 World Cup? Discuss!