International Fixtures

Croatia Somewhat Lucky To Beat Denmark

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Croatia defeated Denmark 1-0 in Friday night’s UEFA Nations League encounter in Copenhagen. It was a match that the home side had dominated for long stretches, without being able to find a breakthrough. Denmark made six changes to the team that had previously beaten Austria 2-1.
This is understandable, due to the packed nature of the schedule. It is cruel by UEFA to make the players play four rounds of matches in such a short period, immediately after a long season. On the other hand, there was no more room in the congested match calendar, to fit these games elsewhere.
Croatia even made seven changes of their own to the team that drew 1-1 against France earlier in the week. Among others, they chose to rest both Mateo Kovačić and Luka Modrić in midfield. As a result, they didn’t gain a foothold into the match in the first half. The Danes attacked with confidence and conviction but ultimately lacked precision. Croatian center-back Josip Šutalo had a great game in his international debut. The controversial goalkeeper Dominik Livaković, whose World Cup starting job is far from secured, also had a good match.

COPENHAGEN, DENMARK – JUNE 10: Jonas Wind of Denmark scores a goal which is disallowed due to offside during the UEFA Nations League League A Group 1 match between Denmark and Croatia at Parken Stadium on June 10, 2022, in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo by James Williamson – AMA/Getty Images)

The teams went to the locker room scoreless. In the second half, Modrić, Kovačić, and the young Bayern Munich fullback Josip Stanišić all came in and significantly livened up play for Croatia. So much so, that by the time Mario Pašalić scored what would be the game-winner just short of the 70th-minute mark, the lead was deserved.
After the goal, however, Denmark took the initiative once again. But on that night, there was no getting past both Livaković and his defenders. (In the only two exceptions to that rule, a Danish player had been offside, or there was a foul before).
So, the 1-0 score line stood up for the remainder of the match.

The Other Game In Group A1

In the other game of the group, Austria held World Cup winners France to a 1-1 draw. This means that Denmark remains on top of the section with six points, while Austria and Croatia have four each and France is on two.

Next Round Matchups

In the next round, the French will host Croatia, while Denmark will take on Austria on Monday.
While there is a lot for Croatia fans to like about coach Zlatko Dalić and his leadership of the team, his open disdain for the UEFA Nations League is largely to blame for the team’s mostly lackluster performances in the competition. One does not have to like the tournament to realize the potential it brings. Especially for a country like Croatia, it offers the shortest path to an international title. It also affects rankings, which are important in EURO and World Cup draws. He should certainly rethink his attitude toward the competition.

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