The 2022 World Cup is less than 10 days away! Let’s take a look at five bold predictions for Croatia’s campaign as the tournament draws closer and closer…
- Croatia will show no hangover from the 2018 World Cup. Expect a quarterfinal appearance from the Vatreni at minimum.
After falling to France in the final, most Croatians thought they’d have to wait another 20 years for a chance at gold in a major tournament. However, thanks to a beautiful mix of young and old talent, the Vatreni’s 2022 roster is definitely stronger than it was in 2018. Sure, the team is lacking a world class striker, but Dalić didn’t have weapons such as Gvardiol and Sosa in the back, accompanied by prime Brozović and Kovačić in the middle of the pitch. Croatia’s bench is also much deeper than it once was, featuring players such as Sučić, Pašalić, Oršić, and Šutalo. With this level of talent coming off the sidelines in the second half, the boys will be ready to go hard for an entire 90+ minutes every match. The Vatreni proved to be top dogs during the most recent Nations League, and look ready to have no problem carrying that over to the world’s biggest stage.
2. Borna Sosa will lead all defenders in the tournament in assists.
The world isn’t ready for Croatia’s left flank of Perišić and Sosa. 24 year-old Sosa, already with 5 assists in 12 Bundesliga matches this season, will be one of the Vatreni’s most important players in the offensive third. Perišić’s unselfish ability to drop back and support the backline will allow the young left-back to send accurate crosses into the box left and right. If Dalić decides to push his outside backs up the sideline similarly to how he did with Vrsaljko and Strinić in 2018, you will see Sosa’s name on the stat sheet. There aren’t many wingbacks in the world that can find a striker’s head like Sosa can.
3. Andrej Kramarić will score a game-winner to silence his critics.
After his recent comments backing Brazil to win the World Cup and costing Croatia a ticket to the Euro 2020 quarterfinals with a terrible miss against Spain, 31 year-old Kramarić has a lot to prove to Croatians this winter in Qatar. As Hoffenheim’s all-time leading scorer, one would imagine that Kramarić would bring an abundance of goals to his national team, especially considering the creative midfield behind him. However, during the past couple of years, he’s had severe trouble finding the back of the net for the Vatreni in important matches. That is going to change once and for all on November 23rd vs. Morocco. He’s tired of hearing fans like us begging Dalić to start inexperienced strikers such as Musa, Čolak, or Livaja ahead of him when it matters most. For club, he takes over when he wants to. It’s about time for him to do the same for his country.
4. Lovro Majer will become a household name for every Croatian.
To the relief of many, Croatia’s new LM10 is here and ready to take over. After scoring a crucial goal against Denmark in the Nations League and recording some fantastic performances, Majer should be a solidified starter in Dalić’s eyes. Similar to Ante Rebić in 2018, Majer will only need one World Cup goal to sell himself to every Croatian around the globe. He brings a flare that the Vatreni have not seen at the right wing role in many, many years, and will work wonderfully up top with Perišić on the opposite side. He will be one of the breakout players of the tournament.
5. Croatia will beat Canada by 2+ goals.
Don’t let Canadian banter and awful journalism distract you from the fact that Croatia has 10x the squad that Canada does. An MLS heavy squad will be no match for a Champions League midfield, 100M dollar backline, and experience up top. Sure, they got some speed with Alphonso Davies, but one player will not win you games in a World Cup. Not to mention, a 2-2 draw against Bahrain the other day? We will be just fine.