Netherlands – Croatia: Croatia’s Midfield Superior In Victory (2-4 A.E.T)
The Netherlands’ defensive system had issues throughout the game, especially against Croatia’s strong midfield unit. Ronald Koeman’s decision to experiment with a center-back moving into midfield had mixed results, and Croatia were deserved winners in the end.
Tactical analysis and match report by Josh Manley.
Ronald Koeman’s return to the Netherlands national team started badly in March with a 4-0 defeat by France. Improvement was needed here as they sought to reach the final of the UEFA Nations League for the second time.
The Dutch started in a 4-3-3 shape, with a back four of Denzel Dumfries, Lutsharel Geertruida, Virgil van Dijk, and Nathan Aké. Frenkie de Jong was the deepest midfielder, with Mats Wieffer and Teun Koopmeiners ahead of him. Xavi Simons and Donyell Malen played wide, while Cody Gakpo was up front.
Croatia were looking to continue their strong record in knockout tournaments of recent years. It was also potentially one of the last big outings in a Croatia shirt for their captain Luka Modrić, who will clarify his intentions to continue to play international football or not after the finals.
Zlatko Dalić’s side also lined up in a 4-3-3 formation. They fielded a back four of Josip Juranović, Josip Šutalo, Domagoj Vida, and Ivan Perišić. Marcelo Brozović played at number six, with Modrić and Mateo Kovačić ahead of him. The front three then consisted of Mario Pašalić, Andrej Kramarić, and Luka Ivanušec.
Croatia’s dynamic midfield
The centerpiece of this generation of Croatian . . .