Last night, the Croatians ended the hope of a nation by knocking out England, confirming that unfortunately this year… it’s not coming home.
After an impressive start to the tournament including a comfortable victory over Lionel Messi’s Argentina, it has since been a bit less straight forward for Croatia.
A side that is blessed with quality in several areas but seemingly never fancied for major glory, Croatia have in recent games scraped through games. In each of Croatia’s knock out games following their qualification as group winners, they have been forced to play a maximum of 120 minutes.
With a squad that is aging in all fairness, in an ideal world an unnecessary 90 minutes across three games would be avoided but it just hasn’t been possible.
Back in 2016, Croatia were left devastated by a late Portugal goal in extra-time knocking them out of the European Championship.
It now seems that they may themselves have taken a leaf out their past oppositions book.
During Portugal’s surge to European triumph, they were tasked with two extra-time meetings in the build up to the final and then in the final itself again it was needed.
The European Champions Portugal were often accused of grinding out fortunate results having not been playing the best of football. A tactic which is certainly beneficial… as long as it gets the job done!
Ranked 20th in the world Croatia were never going to be one of the favourites to win this year’s World Cup but now they are one game away from history.
They haven’t been the prettiest on the eye by any means, but they have got the results required. Now all that stands in their way is a meeting with France. The same team that Portugal had to meet in the final back in 2016.
Many fans are curious as to whether the Croatians would be in this situation had their knockout draw been less favourable but that is not really relevant. They have beaten what has been put in front of them and are deservedly going on to contest what will be an intriguing final.
An extra time strike in France two years ago crushed French hearts and now they will want redemption by claiming World Cup glory. Can the French do it this time or are Croatia your World Champions for 2018?
Let us know in the comments.
By James Miller