🇭🇷🇭🇷🇭🇷 CROATIA CLINCHES NATIONS LEAGUE SEMIFINAL BERTH WITH LATE 2ND HALF SURGE VS. AUSTRIA!!!
Livaja and Lovren headers win it 3-1 for Croatia against Austria in Vienna. The Vatreni will now enter the Nations League semifinals in June. Opponents TBD. Modrić scored inside seven minutes but Austria would equalize moments later through a Stanišić giveaway in Croatia’s zone. The match went into halftime with the Vatreni running out of gas and looking like the winning goal would not happen. But a Perišić cross would find the head of sub Marko Livaja in the 69′ and Dejan Lovren would seal the deal with his own header straight into the ground and into the back of the net three minutes later. Croatia win 3-1 and have now won four straight matches in a row including two over Denmark and one over France. Netherlands have also qualified for the semifinals in June after beating Belgium 1-0 Sunday night.
Things that stuck out in this match:
Livaković had a good game and a great save on the Aurnatovic shot. He was not at fault for the goal but looked shaky coming out on the play that got the wind knocked out of him temporarily. He needs to be confident on those plays during the World Cup. Livaković has yet to impress me on his box presence.
Barišić did not look good as left-back. We all know this position is cemented by Borna Sosa but he did not earn any additional points versus Austria Sunday night.
Lovren only got the start because Šutalo picked up a knock. We shouldn’t expect Lovren to be a starter at the World Cup which is great for the team on an all around note. He was shaky defensively even though he of course (eyeroll) scored a nice header to add some insurance for Croatia late in the 2nd half.
Stanišić had an opportunity to move closer in the depth chart to Juranović for right-back, but it was his error that lead to Austria’s lone goal as he gave the ball away. Juranović isn’t the best option Croatia has had in their history, but he’s a much more mature selection than Stanišić.
Budimir didn’t get much service in this rare start for the Vatreni, but he also didn’t do much with his few touches. He could have been awarded a penalty but the ref didn’t fall for it in the 2nd half as it looked like Budimir started slipping before contact was made. Livaja came on for Budimir and scored immediately. Also not a good sign for Budimir in the Croatian depth chart.
This week was the week of super subs! Majer scored the winner against Denmark and Livaja bagged the winner versus Austria. Both in the 2nd half. This is a fantastic sign going into the World Cup knowing that Croatia will have playmakers coming off the bench that can impact the game.