At last, victory! Thanks to a 2nd half nutmeg goal from Mario Pašalić, Croatia escape Denmark with all three points in the UEFA Nations League. Due to France’s 1-1 draw with Austria, the Vatreni now sit 3rd place in Group A of the competition.
Croatia started the match slow, fielding their C-team against a very strong Denmark side. After a goalless first half, momentum shifted in favor of the Vatreni after Luka Modrić and Mateo Kovačić were subbed into the game. Despite multiple chances early in the second half, it took 69 minutes for Croatia to break the scoreline. In the midst of a broken play, Andrej Kramarić flicked the ball towards net and onto the foot of Mario Pašalić, who scored the lone goal between the legs of Premiership goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel.
Young centerbacks Josip Šutalo and Martin Erlić played incredible in the back line. With the help of solid showings from Josip Stanišić and Josip Juranović, Croatia managed to hold a very dangerous Danish side to zero goals. Luka Modrić, Mateo Kovačić, and Marcelo Brozović proved once again they are the best midfield in international football, and Dominik Livaković finally looked solid in net. Croatia managed to beat Denmark’s A-team without the likes of Borna Sosa, Joško Gvardiol, and Ivan Perišić in the lineup – an extremely positive result after a shaky start in the Nations League and a 3-0 home loss to Austria.
The biggest takeaway from today is Croatia’s proven depth in defense. Martin Erlić, only 24 years-old, has allowed one goal in his first two international matches against the likes of France and Denmark. Josip Šutalo, Dinamo Zagreb’s 22 year-old superstar, played a flawless match in his international debut. Add Joško Gvardiol to that mix, and Dalić has three worthy candidates for the position, all under the age of 24.
Don’t let a blowout loss against our B-team get in your head, people! Yeh, I’m talking about Austria week.