Gone are the days of rotating mediocre right-backs like Tin Jedvaj, Karlo Bartolec, and Filip Uremović, praying one of them doesn’t produce a costly mistake in an important match. Now Croatia has TWO in-form right-backs at two of the top three German clubs that are dropping elite performances in European competition week in and week out.
Josip Stanišić has beat out world-class Portuguese full-back Joao Cancelo to a starting spot for Bayern Munich as he has started in the last three matches, two of which came against 3rd place Union Berlin In Bundesliga action and PSG in the Champions League. And he isn’t just playing “well enough”. Stanišić is earning praise from teammates, manager and fans for his incredibly solid defensive displays and has earned himself a place in the Bayern starting XI. He has maintained a 92% passing accuracy over three games, made 12 tackles, won 16 of 24 ground duels only getting beat twice; recovering from it both times. He has also created one dangerous chance offensively and has contributed to the attack by playing balls forward and being accurate with his crosses. And come on…0 goals against in two legs versus Messi and Mbappe is a gigantic feat. Stanišić was at the heart of that and he has now shut down Mbappe twice in as many attempts. Who’d have thought that 22 year-old Josip Stanišić would be Kylian Mbappe’s kryptonite?
Josip Juranović has been killing it as one of the “main-men” for 3rd place German side Union Berlin. Against Ajax in the Europa League round of 32, Juranović won MOTM honours as Union Berlin eliminated the Dutch side 3-1 (agg). Juranović recorded one goal and one assist, three keys passes and one big chance created out of just SEVEN total passes in the game. He won all three of his ground duels and made three tackles and clearances. You could not ask for a better performance from a right-back as he earned a 8.8 match rating from SofaScore. Union Berlin faced Royale Union Saint-Gilloise in the Round of 16 Thursday night, and Juranović (deployed at left-back on his weaker side) scored a wonderful free kick, made four key passes, took three shots, completed a dribble, won all his three ground duels and completed one tackle. Juranović has not been dribbled past ONCE since he joined Union Berlin from Celtic during the winter transfer window.
These performances from both right-backs creates an amazing problem for the National Team. Instead of “which of the two average players is the lesser of two evils?”, the question becomes “which of the two good players is the better one?”. Who would you start if you were Dalić: Stanišić or Juranović?