Here are my takeaways from today’s 1-1 draw with France at Poljud in Nations League. (And remember, France played their B-squad against us without Benzema, Mbappe, Lloris, Pogba. Griezmann came off the bench)
-Livaković cannot be Croatia’s #1 goalie at the World Cup. Was he at fault for the France goal? No. But you have to come out and challenge the attacker by cutting off his angle. They teach you that in Goalie 101 camp. Livaković stood there like a deer in headlights. Dalić needs to make him the backup.
-Croatia still needs to find a striker (or a system that Kramarić works in) before the World Cup. Budimir looked lost today against a French B-squad in the box. He’s supposed to be a point man like Mandžukić was or great with his head in the box. He was not today. The wings were also responsible for Budimir’s demise.
-There is no wing play without Ivan Perišić. We have no idea what we are missing until Perišić is not on the field. He explodes down the flank whipping in crosses and taking on defenders 1v1. There was none of that today as most of Croatia’s play came down the middle.
-We have the best center midfield in the world. Period. When Modrić, Kovačić, Brozović are all on, it’s truly a sight to see.
-The last 20 minutes of the game today were beautiful! Croatia almost found a winner but they pressed and pressed and pressed with intensity and passion. Why does it take us being down a goal to find this intensity? I don’t know. But if we started games down 1-0 in the future, it wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
-The Vatreni didn’t get skunked at home. A draw against any French side is good. I’m glad they were able to find one goal between the Osijek/Split matches this week.
-Luka Sučić is the real deal. He came on for Modrić late in the 2nd half and almost scored with his first touch. He nearly bagged the winner at the death. Maybe nerves on that shot to the far post but he is going to be a pleasure to watch over the next decade.
Croatia XI: Livaković; Juranović, Erlić, Vida, Barišić; Brozović, Modrić, Kovačić; Brekalo, Budimir, Majer
France XI: Maignan; Digne, Kimpembe, Pavard, Saliba, Diaby; Rabiot, Guendouzi, Tchouaméni; Nkunku, Ben Yedder