It was all Croatia in the 1st half of the match against Wales Saturday night in Split. The Vatreni were completely on the front foot from the opening whistle. Kramarić nearly scored a wonderful strike off a half-volley but had his shot parried away by the Welsh keeper early in the first period. However, he eventually found the back of the net to open the scoring in the 28th minute when he skipped around a Welsh defender and ripped an “outside foot” shot from 20 yards out. Kramarić had a golden opportunity in the 44′ to lay an easy pass to Perišić for an open look on goal but took the selfish approach instead.
Croatia were up 1-0 at halftime with full control of the match. If they would have kept up the same tempo, the match surely would have ended 2-0 or 3-0.
But the Vatreni came out flat in the 2nd half and looked to drop in intensity from the first 45 minutes. Modrić and the boys had multiple looks at goal and could have sealed the deal with a second goal at any point in 2nd half. The goal never came even with Perišić rattling a shot off the crossbar midway through. Striker Petar Musa made his senior debut for Croatia in the 50th minute but didn’t receive much service. The match stayed 1-0 for the rest of the game, which only gave Wales hope. On their last offensive play of the match in the 93rd minute, a long throw-in was flicked to the back post to a wide open Broadhead for the equalizer.
This is 100% a disappointing draw. Croatia dominated from start to finish but couldn’t find a second goal at any point in the match to bury all Welsh hopes. But at the end of the day, this is what the Vatreni do–they make silly mistakes in qualifying ALL THE TIME. So are we really surprised?
This was merely the opening match of EURO 2024 qualifying but it will absolutely be a vibe killer for the moment. A win in Turkey on Tuesday will rectify everything as this is Croatia’s toughest 2-match stretch in EURO qualifying.
The match was theirs. Croatia had everything in control and they only have themselves to blame for not burying a mediocre European side in Wales — at home. The boys will be fine but this one will hurt tonight. A win was expected in Split and so were drinks flowing on the Splitska Riva.
2 pressing questions for Dalić and Kramarić:
- Does Dalić really need to sub out Modrić and Kovačić late in the game simply to burn seconds off the clock? It’s only a 1-goal game. Leave your core intact and finish the game. Don’t worry about standing ovations.
- Does Kramarić hate Perišić? There were 3 instances where Krama could have passed the ball to put Perišić in prime position. Instead, he did it himself. What’s the reason? Even though Krama scored the lone goal of the match, he could have easily been hero with 1-2 assists. Easily.
Great starting squad from Dalić. Livaja will feel right at home at Poljud in front of the Split faithful. I would have liked to see Juranović on the right wing instead of defense. Musa MUST see at least 30 minutes in this match. He can absolutely shake things up with good results in the Croatian strike force.