Croatia – England: England control Croatia to take point in quiet stalemate (0-0).

Playing behind closed doors – if you exclude the couple of dozen England fans that camped out on the hill behind the small arena – added to the slow and lifeless pace of Croatia’s possession. England made the extra man they created in the back count as they gradually dominated the match and used their width to create the biggest opportunities. That they could not convert was the only reason this game ended in a goalless draw. 

After reaching the World Cup final in Russia, three players announced their retirement from Croatia’s national team, attacker Mario Mandžukić being the most notable one. Croatia’s true star power is untouched though, as against England, manager Zlatko Dalić could still field a midfield trio of Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić and Mateo Kovačić, with Ante Rebić looking to fill the boots left by Mandžukić up front. Compared to their last match - a devastating 6-0 loss against Spain - five personnel changes were made.

England, looked like a very different outfit as well. Rather than sticking by the 3-5-2 formation that got his team in the semifinal of the World Cup, Gareth Southgate decided to revert to a 4-3-3. Be it experimental or not, it did still feature a lot of the expected starters.

With both nations fast falling to the wayside due to Spain’s dominance in this UEFA Nations League group thus far, a win here would’ve been just the kind of result that either side would've needed to help keep them within touching distance of their group rivals.

Croatia's positioning and general movements in possession.
England formed a 4-3-3 against this, with the wingers quite high and ready to press the . . .

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Peter (20), lives just outside of London. He’s been writing about tactics and such for over a year now, contributing to a couple of sites during that time. His main club is Arsenal but he’s also followed Real Betis quite heavily since Quique Setién took over last year. This form of writing has become a great passion of his and, although he’s unsure of what his end aim is, he’s enjoying being given new opportunities to continue doing so. [ View all posts ]

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