International Fixtures

Croatia, France Draw In Nations League Play

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Monday night’s UEFA Nations League encounter between Croatia and France ended in a hard-fought 1-1 stalemate, as Adrien Rabiot and Andrej Kramarić provided the goals in the second half.
It was largely a tight and tactical affair early on. as these two defeated sides from Matchday 1 seemed to prioritize avoiding another loss.
France made a grand total of 10 changes to their starting lineup compared to their 2-1 defeat to Denmark in the previous match. Cynics might say that it was a B team, but it was still made up of a highly-skilled group of players, albeit with less national team experience. Players such as RB Leipzig’s Christopher Nkunku or Bayer Leverkusen’s Moussa Diaby were preferred to their more well-known teammates.
The Croatian coaching staff made six changes to the team that began the 3-0 debacle vs. Austria. The most notable among them of course was the return of captain Luka Modrić to the starting 11, making his 150th appearance for his country.

SPLIT, CROATIA – JUNE 06: Luka Modric of Croatia controls a ball during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 1 match between Croatia and France at Stadion Poljud on June 6, 2022, in Split, Croatia. (Photo by Luka Stanzl/Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images)

Real scoring opportunities were few and far between in the opening half. Despite the great atmosphere inside the Poljud Stadium in Split, Croatia.
The home side’s starting central striker Ante Budimir was only slightly more active than Andrej Kramarić had been against Austria. For a country that has produced so many natural goal scorers in such a short time like Davor Šuker, Eduardo da Silva, Ivica Olić, or Mario Mandžukić, it is an unusual problem to have.
In any case, Rabiot’s goal early in the second half came largely out of nowhere and did little to change the nature of the match. It was not until the final quarter-hour or so, that the home team really set out for the equalizer. Given their striker problems of late, it is not surprising that substitute Kramarić’s goal came from a penalty kick. But of course, they all count.

What Happened in the Other Game of Group A1?

The other game of the group between Austria and Denmark in Vienna ended with a 2-1 triumph for the visitors. This means that the Danes are now in control of the group with six points, while Austria has three, and the two 2018 FIFA World Cup finalists are stuck at the wrong end of the table with one point each.
Croatia will face Denmark away next in hopes of rectifying the situation on Friday night. France faces Austria on the same evening, before taking on Croatia again at the end of the June international window. From the point of view of the Vatreni, it is progress compared to last Friday, but not enough of it.

Main Image Credits: Embed from Getty Images

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Denis Knezovic is a longtime football/soccer writer, as well as a published author.
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Twitter: @KnezovicDenis