The Croatian U21 team could have all but booked their ticket to the 2023 Euro tournament with a win in Varaždin versus Finland Tuesday night. After an uneventful 0-0 draw against Austria on Saturday, we all thought the Finland game on home soil would have been an automatic three points; especially with the Mladi Vatreni already beating the Fins at their house 2-0 this campaign. But it didn’t happen and now Croatia will have to sweat the Norway game (a very good team) in June to qualify directly to the 2023 tournament. Only the top team in the group will go directly and this week will be one to forget for the Croatian young guns.
Many close to the team are saying that manager Igor Bišćan’s tactics and strategy are all over the place. He played a 3-4-3 formation but I don’t think it really matters. There is tons of talent on this team that should be crushing all the U21 competition out there: Sučić (RB Salzburg), Šimić (RB Salzburg), Stanišić (Bayern Munich); not to mention some HNL young guns that have had solid seasons in the Croatia Prva HNL this year: Marin, Beljo, Biuk.
The Croatia U21’s started the campaign with six straight victories before drawing to Austria Saturday and losing to Finland today; both on home soil. But look at the 1st half lowlights for Croatia. They conceded three times to Finland and gifted them two goals from defensive blunders that should never happen. A 3-goal deficit was too much for them to come back from even with a valiant effort in the 2nd half. Šimić missed a penalty attempt on an awful shot while Šutalo and Fruk bagged goals late. Sučić came off in the 63′, five minutes before Šimić’s miss from the spot. Šučić would have surely taken the PK if he was on the pitch.
It’s not the end of the world for this team, but something definitely wasn’t jiving this week for the team in Euro 2023 qualifying. A draw vs. Norway and win vs. Estonia in June with see Croatia finish top of group and qualify automatically. Estonia has yet to score a goal in eight matches.