Official Lineup: HRVATSKA (4-3-3): Livaković – Juranović, J. Šutalo, Gvardiol, Sosa – Modrić, Brozović, Kovačić – Pašalić, Kramarić, Perišić
The scoreline looked much closer than it should have but Croatia dominated this 2-1 win over Denmark from start to finish at Maksimir. After a scoreless 1st half that saw minimal chances from both sides, left-back Borna Sosa would break the game open in the 49th minute with a wonderfully placed ball in the bottom-left corner of net in front of a congested Danish penalty box. It was a wise decision going for placement over power and will only increase Sosa’s value going into the winter transfer window this January. Mateo Kovačić should have doubled the lead after whizzing through the entire Denmark defense but disappointingly shanked his shot wide.
The Vatreni looked to be in control of the match but gave Christian Eriksen way too much space as he dribbled up field and rocketed home a perfect shot from 28 yards out to tie the game up at 1-1. Really nothing Livaković could have done unless he had and extra four inches on his reach. He made a nice save in the 1st Half and should be commended on his efforts, even though he still scares the sh** out of me going into the World Cup. But it would be Lovro Majer playing hero on the day for Croatia.
Majer (equipped with Batman face mask) came off the bench in the 77th minute and scored two minutes later with a wonderful left-footed curler from 21 yards out. It was enough for the win as Croatia now sit top of their Nations League group with one match remaining versus Austria on Sunday. The Vatreni will win the group and make their first Nations League semifinals next June IF: 1) they beat Austria on Sunday OR 2) Denmark draw/lose vs. France on Sunday. Expect France to play for a win as a loss potentially relegates them to League B next campaign.
The team played great as a whole today with two players to call out. The checkers have been heavy on Andrej Kramarić’s back. He does his job at Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga but has not come through for Croatia in big moments for quite some time. Is he World Cup ready? I don’t think so.
Mario Pašalić did not impress today in a starter role. He usually comes off the bench in a super-sub role but did not cement any confidence in me versus Denmark. With Lovro Majer coming off the bench to score the game winner and Vlašić playing well in Serie A, Pašalić missed a golden opportunity today and will likely come off the bench in Qatar.