Croatia – Spain: Croatia’s first half control eventually pays dividends in second half thriller (3-2)

Zlatko Dalić’s flat 4-5-1-0 shape perfectly managed to frustrate Spain’s 4-3-3 formation. The match changed when the visitors transitioned into a back-three, as Luis Enrique’s tweaks helped Spain to create numerous big chances. They might well have taken all three points, if it weren’t for a dramatic late winner by Croatia.

Tactical analysis and match report by Peter M.

Croatia’s manager Zlatko Dalić made three changes to the side that drew 0-0 in their last UEFA Nations League match against England. In goal, Dominik Livaković was replaced by Lovre Kalinić; in defense, Šime Vrsaljko came in for Josip Pivarić as Tin Jedvaj was forced to play at left back; in midfield, Mateo Kovačić sat on the bench as Marcelo Brozović took charge of his spot in holding midfield.

Jordi Alba finally made his return to the international scene and started at left back, ahead of Marcos Alonso. Elsewhere, there were numerous changes as Nacho Fernández, Jonny Otto, Thiago Alcântara and Marco Asensio were all left out of the eleven. In their place came Iñigo Martínez, Sergi Roberto, Dani Ceballos and Isco respectively.

Croatia’s flat line of five frustrates Spain’s predictable possession

It was a given that Spain would hold the majority of the ball in this match, so from a tactical point of view, the question was how Croatia would attempt to contain them. In their attempts to do so, they did not pose in a 4-4-2 shape, like most teams who play 4-2-3-1 do. Rather, they . . .

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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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