The Croatian national football team lost 1-0 to Brussels in Belgium in their final test before the European Cup.
In a game with the result as the background, Dalic decided to be unexpected in terms of tactics and personnel, which may mean that the same team will perform well in the first European game against England, but in the game against Belgium. After that, it did not seem to be the best idea.
It makes perfect sense to choose Belgium as the last check before the European Championship. The first reason is the strength of the team. The Belgian, just like the British, is at the forefront of the favorites to win, this is by far the strongest opponent of Croatia since the game against Portugal in November.
Another reason that Belgium is a good choice is that their formation is 3-4-3. Until recently, Gordy Albion often used three players on the back line, and in the past six months, he has spent most of his time defending four players. However, in the offensive phase, the right back (usually Walker) is pulled to the third position, while the left back moves higher, so England’s basic offensive position is similar to Belgium.
It can be concluded that Dalic is seriously considering the first game of the starting game with the same team. The only major change is the introduction of Kovacic as an additional “eight” instead of Vlasic or Klamarić in “ten.” Although the Croatian team performed very well in the first 15 minutes, the impression is that there are more problems than benefits in this system.
Brozovic, Kovacic and Modric are very similar players in their favorite positions. All three like to start very low offensively, take the ball from the defense and continue to play for the team. In theory, the advantage of this game is obvious-the three of them can control the ball well. Even if there is no verticality in the game, it is difficult in such a lineup. Croatia can have more possession of the ball, thereby reducing the number of opponents’ attacks. Taking into account the strength of yesterday’s opponents, the introduction of Kovacic as the third midfielder is actually a defensive move.
In the first 15 minutes, all the benefits of such a game were seen. Three midfielders, with the help of pick-and-rolls and defenders, easily faced Belgium’s first block, and once held the ball to lead the Croatian national team 80-20. This is a big problem for teams accustomed to playing proactively, and it is very important for them to establish an offensive rhythm.
Here is the story of the positive influence of the barn. After several rounds of offensive rotation and defensive aggressiveness, the Belgian completely reversed the situation of the game. The dominance lasted until the last 20 minutes, and the game was diluted after many substitutions. What happened in the middle is a good example of what kind of trouble Croatia might encounter in the European Cup.
With the three midfielders playing very close to defense in the offensive phase, Croatia does not have a more offensive midfielder to connect the line. Without the “ten”, the fire has no depth in the middle of the field, and must avoid the central area when attacking.
If Bruno Petkovic plays the “number nine” position, his main strength is to fall to the ground, catch the ball with his back on his back and play with his teammates, this will be a problem. He really needs Vlasic or Kramaric to get close to him from midfield to get the ball. The first three midfielders did not have this habit, Petkovic was automatically excluded from the game. “We missed the players in the backstage, Luca and I withdrew in some cases. Belgium deservedly won, but we have positive things,” Kovacic said after the game.
Due to the lack of players in the area, Croatia had to build an offense on the flank. Given that Belgium does not have two wings on the defensive end, this may be an effective strategy, because on the one hand Barisic and Perisic or on the other hand Vrsalico and Rebic can create a surplus. That happened, but the question is how good such a game is for Dalic’s players.
Perisic or Rebic entered the midfield without the ball, which left a lot of space for Barisic and Vrsalico on both sides. Although Croatia has scored the last third of the field many times, this is not what it wants, nor is it what it should play. A team that has such players in the midfield and offensively should not arrange for Barisic and Vrsalico to be the only players in the last third of the field on the offensive end.
They had several dangerous center shots, but because Modric, Kovacic and Brozovic were far from the front line, Croatia did not have enough players in the final. If you look at the best chance of the game again, it is easy to see that the Belgian had at least two players in the attacking zone to end their offense.