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Croatia edge past Spain 3-2

Zagreb, Nov 16: Croatia battled to the final whistle and prevailed with a 3-2 over Spain to stay alive in the UEFA Nations League.

Spain, with six points from four matches, retain the lead in League A Group 4, while Croatia go level on points with England at 4 after three matches, though the Three Lions have the advantage on goal difference, reports Efe news.

After beating England in the opener in London and routing Croatia at home, Spain looked set to cruise into the final stage until they lost 2-3 to the Three Lions in Seville last month.

That was the backdrop for La Roja’s visit to Zagreb to face the 2018 World Cup runners-up, anxious to dispel the memory of their abysmal performance two months ago in Spain.

The hosts, physical on defence and direct on the attack on Thursday, largely dictated the flow of play until the final seconds of the first half, when Spain’s Saul Ñiguez and Isco Alarcon threatened the Croatia goal.

With the score 0-0 and both teams needing a win, the 36,000 spectators at Maksimir stadium were treated to a second-half offensive display involving some of the most talented players in the game.

Just as Spain seemed to be getting the upper hand, a giveaway by Sergi Roberto left Croatia’s Andrej Kramaric alone in front of goal and he beat keeper David de Gea to put the hosts up 1-0 in the 54th minute.

Spain reacted furiously and the equalizer was not long in coming. Iago Aspas sent a deft pass to Isco behind the Croatia defence and the forward relayed the ball to midfielder Dani Ceballos for an easy goal in the 56th.

The visitors stepped up the pace and would have taken the lead if Aspas hadn’t hit the cross-bar with a strike from close range.

Instead, the next goal went to Croatia thanks to a rare mistake by De Gea, who had a chance to grab the ball before Tin Jedvaj headed-in after a corner to make it 2-1 for the home side with 20 minutes left.

But a blunder at the other end in the 78th minute let Spain get back into the game, as Sergio Ramos converted from the spot after a hand ball by defender Sime Vrsaljko.

The final stretch was all Croatia and Jedvaj completed the brace with a goal in the 93rd minute.

With the outcome, Spain, who have played all four of their matches, need Croatia and England to draw at Wembley next Sunday to be assured of advancing directly to the final stage.

Zlatko Dalic, Cristiano Ronaldo
Zlatko Dalic says Cristiano Ronaldo is an egoistic person. Image Courtesy: Getty
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I Would Never Want Egoistic Cristiano Ronaldo in My Team – Zlatko Dalic

Croatia manager, Zlatko Dalic has bashed Cristiano Ronaldo and called him an egoistic man, as he didn’t attend the UEFA awards ceremony after knowing that Luka Modric is the player of the year.

Ronaldo was angry after he failed to win the UEFA Player of the year award.

Ronaldo including his agent and sister believe he got denied the well-deserved award. After scoring 15 goals and winning the UCL for the third time in a row, the Portuguese star was sure he would be named the player of the year once again.

But the fate took a turn and his former team-mate, Luka Modric was named the player of the year. Then the controversies began when Ronaldo’s agent and sister protested this decision on social media rather than congratulating Ronaldo’s former team-mate.

However, Croatia manager took the side of his player and bashed Ronaldo for not giving enough respect to the winner. Dalic told Sportske Novosti,

“Ronaldo not attending the UEFA ceremony and those comments about Luka winning it… it is not worthy of my comment! It only proves what I keep saying: Ronaldo is an egotist and I’d never want him in my team. He is the kind of player that only thinks ‘no matter if we lose, the only thing that matters is that I score a goal!”

Zlatko Dalic, Cristiano Ronaldo
Zlatko Dalic says Cristiano Ronaldo is egoistic.

Meanwhile, Modric got the well-deserved appreciation from his national team coach.

“Luka Modric is a great player and person and all of the fame and glory, titles with Real, didn’t change him at all. He’s gone through things the hard way, but that’s the way every player should go, not leave the Croatian league at the age of 18. t would have been too early for him to retire [from international duty], he should be at his peak at Euro 2020.”

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Mario Mandzukic Retires From International Football

Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic has announce retirement from International football with immediate effect.

Mario Mandzukic’s Croatia had a dream run in the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

After having a dream in the World Cup in Russia and ending up as runners-up, Mandzukic has decided its time to call it a day. The 32-year old has played 89 matches and scored 33 goals for Croatia. He is also second leading goal-scorer of his country only behind former player Davor Suker.

Mandzukic announced his retirement by releasing a statement on Tuesday:

“Dear fans, I always preferred to do my talking on the pitch than off it. That is why these words are harder than slide-tackling an opponent or sprinting in the 120th minute. It is harder as I know how much joy all the gatherings, matches and victories bring. It is harder as I know that listening to ‘Lijepa Nasa’ before a match is the biggest emotion. It’s harder because it is an honour to wear the Croatian shirt and to represent my country. It is harder because I know this is final and after these words, there is no coming back.”

Mario Mandzukic Retires From International Football 1

The Juventus forward further added:
“But, it is time nevertheless for these words. I am retiring from the Croatian national team. However much the silver medal gave me new energy, it made this tough decision easier. I experienced my dream, achieved historic success and felt the unbelievable love of the fans. Thank you, everybody, because everyone in their own way left a mark on my career. I always had my closest friends alongside me, and I thank them for their great support.”

Mandzukic also seeked forgiveness to the fans for all the chances he missed and for all the times he disappointed them.

“And finally, thank you to the fans. Nobody is perfect. I missed chances, lost the ball and made bad passes. But, I always gave it my all and left my heart on the pitch. Thank you for recognising that and being with me and the Croatian national team. Love, Mandzo.”

In 2007, Mandzukic made his debut for Croatia. He has participated in four major International tournaments Euro 2012, World Cup 2014, Euro 2016 and World Cup 2018. He bids farewell also being Croatian Footballer of the Year in 2012 and 2013.

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2018 FIFA World Cup: Revealed – The Whopping World Cup Prize Money

fThere is absolutely no denying that winning the World Cup is the pinnacle of football for almost every footballer. The prestige associated with winning the coveted trophy of the holy grail of the game lasts a lifetime. Being a part of the World Cup-winning team immortalise the player in his country’s football history.

What makes winning the title even more glorious is that it only comes around every four years. The top 32 nations vying for the top prize in the game makes this competition one of the best spectacles. Well, the World Cup trophy is not the only thing the 32 teams competing in the tournament are playing for.

2018 FIFA World Cup: Revealed - The Whopping World Cup Prize Money 3
World Cup Prize Money

As with most top-level football competitions in the modern era there are financial rewards for winning the World Cup. And what makes the World Cup even more interesting is that there is some lucrative reward even for every side. Even for those who don’t win the title or progress far.

In October 2017, FIFA had confirmed that a total of $400 million would be shared between the participants at the tournament in the form of prize money. The amount was a 12 percent increase from the previous tournament in 2014.

Simply qualifying for the tournament was worth a minimum of $9.5m ($8m for taking part in the group stage and $1.5m for tournament costs).

If a team progressed from the group stage but got knocked out at the round of 16 they got an extra $4m (a total of $12m).

Teams that lost in the quarter-final received a further $4m ($16m) and the semifinalists each received different amounts based on the result. The beaten semi-finalists who contest the third-place play-off shared $46m, with $24m going to winner and $22m going to the loser.

The final was a $66m game and the winner received $38m with the runners-up getting $28m.

That means France pocketed a handsome $38m after thrashing Croatia 4-2 in the title-decider.

So here is the 2018 World Cup prize money breakdown:

Finish Payout Team(s)
Champion $38,000,000 France
Runner-up $28,000,000 Croatia
Third Place $24,000,000 Belgium
Fourth Place $22,000,000 England
Quarterfinal $16,000,000 Uruguay, Russia, Brazil, Sweden
Round of 16 $12,000,000 Portugal, Argentina, Mexico, Japan, Spain, Denmark, Switerland, Colombia
Group Stage $8,000,000 Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morocco, Iran, Australia, Iceland, Peru, Nigeria, Serbia, Costa Rica, South Korea Germany, Tunisia, Panama, Senegal, Poland
Jurgen Klopp
Jurgen Klopp says Croatia and Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren has been in phenomenal touch. Image Courtesy: Getty Images
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Liverpool Coach Jurgen Klopp Backs Dejan Lovren after Incredible World Cup Run

Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp is full of praise for Croatian defender, Dejan Lovren after the latter’s run to World Cup final. Lovren has been the cornerstone in Croatia’s defence and has contributed to their success in recent years.

The defender recently claimed he is one of the best in the world. Although Klopp did not draw comparisons, he reckons there is still room for improvement for the 29-year old.

The Croatian international also played an excellent role in helping Liverpool reach the Champions League final last season. But Lovren needs to be at his absolute best to give Croatia a chance at winning World Cup against favourites, France.

“People very often judge other people pretty early. I don’t know exactly what happened before I came in,” Klopp told Liverpool’s website. “Since I came in, maybe Dejan made three or four mistakes, two of them in the Tottenham game, maybe one in a Champions League game last year. But it’s for sure not 15 or 20.

“Ninety percent of the time he played outstanding, 95 percent absolutely OK, and five percent probably he was not at his best. But you will find these problems for pretty much all the players in the world.

Dejan Lovren
Dejan Lovren says he should get the respect he deserves.

Despite Lovren having a knack of misjudging few situations, he has developed into a terrific defender during his time at Anfield. He has been one of the leaders on the current Croatian team and will play a massive role for them on Sunday. Klopp reckons Lovren can still improve to reach his potential.

“I’m completely happy. I’m happy that he used the little advice we gave him in the last few years in a very good way. He can still improve, 100 percent.

“But he is on a really good way. I didn’t see all of the World Cup games but a lot — he played a fantastic tournament so far. It’s well deserved, I’m really happy for him.”

Dejan Lovren has enjoyed a great World Cup on a personal note so far. The Croats has surprised everyone with the level of football they played over the past month. They managed to finish, as toppers in Group D and then defeated Denmark, Russia and England.

FIFA World Cup 2018: Croatia pip Russia to enter FIFA World Cup semis

The team has worked as a single unit and ensured they made their efforts count by scoring goals at crucial moments.

However, France is a different class, as they are one of the best teams in the world. If anything to go by, then Croatia will need to play the game of their lives to win the coveted trophy in Moscow.

FIFA World Cup 2018: Croatia will be fresh for World Cup semi final: Coach
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FIFA World Cup 2018: Croatia will be fresh for World Cup semi final: Coach

Moscow, July 9: Croatia have the vitality to beat England in their World Cup semi final despite playing in two consecutive matches that have gone to extra-time and penalties, coach Zlatko Dalic said.

After overcoming Denmark on penalties in the last 16, Croatia defeated hosts Russia in another shootout last Saturday.

On Wednesday, Croatia will confront England at Moscow’s Luzhniki Stadium for a place in the final on July 15.

“Of course there is some power left for the English,” Xinhua news agency reported quoting Dalic.

“We will not stop, we will try to play to get the best out of ourselves. We have two matches to play, we are very motivated, we will give our all,” he said.

While Croatia endured a gruelling 120-minute battle against Russia, England progressed to the last four with a relatively straightforward 2-0 win over Sweden last Saturday.

Croatia will be sweating on the fitness of goalkeeper Danijel Subasic after he played through the latter part of the quarterfinal with a hamstring injury.

FIFA World Cup 2018: Croatia pip Russia to enter FIFA World Cup semis
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FIFA World Cup 2018: Croatia pip Russia to enter FIFA World Cup semis

Sochi (Russia), July 8: Croatia overcame hosts Russia with a 4-3 (2-2) win via penalty shootout at the Fisht Stadium on Saturday to enter the FIFA World Cup semi-finals for the second time after a gap of 20 years.

Denis Cheryshev’s 25-yard screamer in the 31st minute gave Russia the lead but Croatia pulled level through Andrej Kramaric’s header in the 39th minute.

Domajog Vida gave Croatia the lead with a header in the 101st minute.

But Mario Fernandes found Russia’s equaliser in the 115th minute to stretch the match to penalty shootout, in which Croatia prevailed.

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FIFA World Cup2018: Croatia pip Denmark to enter FIFA World Cup quarters

Nizhny Novgorod (Russia), July 2: Croatia defeated Denmark 3-2 (1-1) via penalty shootout here on Sunday to enter the FIFA World Cup quarter-finals.

After an ethralling start to the match which saw Mathias Jorgensen for Denmark and Mario Mandzukic for Croatia score within just four minutes, the teams could not be separated.

In the penalty shootout, Ivan Rakitic scored Croatia’s fifth attempt to send them into the last eight stage.

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Croatia vs Denmark Match Preview

Croatia can no longer be considered a darkhorse at this tournament. The Vatreni dominated Group D. Which was after all labelled the group of death ahead of the tournament, by beating Nigeria, Argentina and Iceland without any problems. 

Croatia’s 3-0 win over Argentina was, in particular, impressive. The Vatreni led by playmaker Luka Modrić and by a fast and flexible attacking line uncorked Argentina; scoring three goals to surprise the world and create one of the biggest crisis in Argentine football.

In the past, however, such a result would have had a dangerous knock-on effect. One of the most talented sides in the world Croatian coaches have always struggled to turn the Vatreni into a unite. It is, therefore, surprising that it was the relative unknown head coach Zlatko Dalić – he coached in Albania and Saudi Arabia before taking the job – that now seems to get the best out of this unit.

“We have achieved our first goal but we want more, and we can achieve more”; Dalić told the media this week. “The match against Denmark is going to be a moment of truth”, Dalić cautioned those who were overly euphoric after strong performances in the group.

Croatia, after all, has been here before. Many times in the past the Vatreni were considered among the favourites to win the title and there are many football betting tips out there that can help you make a bet on Croatia. But only once at the 1998 FIFA World Cup did the country manage to survive until the final weekend to finish third. “We have to be careful and shouldn’t underestimate Denmark,” Eintracht Frankfurt forward Ante Rebić warned ahead of the match on Sunday.

Denmark, in the meantime, survived Group C, which also included France, Australia and Peru, after a controversial 0-0 draw against France on matchday 3. Knowing that goalless tie would be enough to see both teams advance the two countries played each other to a standstill and then made very little effort to achieve a positive result.

Finishing second in what was a problematic group is an excellent achievement for Denmark. “Of course, the game was not tasty for the spectators. It wasn’t entertaining at all. But we advanced that is the only thing that matters. We don’t have players like France, Spain or Germany we have to make due with what we got,” Denmark defender Jannik Vestergaard told kicker in an interview after the match.

“The quarterfinal is a realistic goal”, Vestergaard added in the interview. But Denmark will have to improve their performances from the group stage if they want to beat a talented Croatia side. Because unlike France the Vatreni will go into the match with a clear goal to dominate and break down a Danish side that at times seems to lack creative impulses.

For Croatia, this will be a statement game. Go through, and the Balkan nation will have arrived among the candidates to win the World Cup. Given the talent available and the way, the country has been performing the Danes should provide only a small obstacle to the next round.

Croatia vs Denmark – Players to look out for:

Luka Modrić #10 – Croatia (Real Madrid)

The battle of the number tens will be an interesting feature of this match. Croatia’s number ten, Luka Modrić, has been one of the biggest stars of this tournament. Enormously talented Modrić sometimes flies under the radar when it comes to naming the best players in the world. But the Real Madrid midfielder is a game changer, someone who with one pass or one shot can turn an entire match on its head. In Madrid he sometimes gets lost among the many stars and for Croatia, in the past, he was sometimes tasked with doing too much. Dalić, however, has somewhat changed his role moving him further up the field to free Modrić from defensive tasks, which in turn has allowed Modrić to focus on the more creative aspects of the game.

Christian Eriksen #10 – Denmark (Tottenham)

Christian Eriksen, in the meantime, will be Denmark’s counter-weight to Luka Modrić. Like Modrić Erkisen has been a breakout player for Tottenham but unlike Modrić it appears that the North London club will be able to hang on to their playmaker. There are some other parallels, however, between Modrić and Eriksen. Both are very important for their respective countries where they also take a much bigger role than in their respective club teams. Eriksen, in fact, was Denmark’s leading goalscorer throughout the qualification phase of the tournament. Hence, like Modrić for Croatia Eriksen has a more attacking role for Denmark in comparison to his club position and the Danish number ten will, therefore, be one of the most dangerous players on the pitch on Sunday night.

Croatia vs Denmark – Match Stats

  • Croatia and Denmark are meeting for the sixth time. Both teams have won two of the previous five matches.
  • This is only the second time the two countries meet at a major tournament. Croatia beat Denmark at the group stage of Euro 1996.
  • Six of the seven goals Croatia scored at this World Cup were scored in the second half. Five out of Croatia’s last six shots on net led to goals scored.

Futbolgrad Network Prediction: Croatia vs Denmark – 3-1

Croatia vs Denmark – Lineups

Croatia:

Formation: 4-1-4-1

Subasić – Strinić, Lovren, Vida, Vrsaljko – Brozović – Rebić, Rakitić, Modrić, Perišić – Mandžukić

Head Coach: Zlatko Dalić

Denmark:

Formation: 4-2-3-1

Schmeichel – Stryger Larsen, M. Jørgensen, Kjær, Dalsgaard – Delaney, Christensen, Eriksen – Sisto, Cornelius, Braithwaite

Head Coach: Age Hareide

FIFA World Cup 2018: Croatia hot favourites against lacklustre Denmark
FIFA World Cup 2018: Croatia hot favourites against lacklustre Denmark
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FIFA World Cup 2018: Croatia hot favourites against lacklustre Denmark

Nizhny Novgorod (Russia), June 30: In-form Croatia will be hot favorites against Denmark, who have looked lackluster in the group stages when the two sides clash in a World Cup pre-quarterfinal here on Sunday.

Croatia has won all their Group D matches, including a 3-0 hammering of Lionel Messi’s Argentina. Led by Real Madrid’s midfield lynchpin Luka Modric, Croatia also defeated Nigeria and Iceland to top Group D.

The pre-quarter-final will be played at the same venue where the Croats thumped Argentina.

This time, Croatia has an experienced squad, a strong generation to at least match their best-ever finish of a third place which happened in 1998 World Cup.

“I was nine-years-old. I remember my mum screaming in the house when we scored,” centra; defender Dejan Lovren was quoted as saying recalling Croatia’s 2-1 win over the Netherlands in 1998 that secured third place.

“We can beat that, definitely, but we need luck. We have a good opponent in the next round, it will be difficult,” said Lovren, who is expected to return to the starting XI. His fellow defenders are expected to be Domagoj Vida, Šime Vrsaljko, Ivan Strinic — all were rested during the game against Iceland. As will goalkeeper Danijel Subašic.

Croatia will once again depend on Modric, who has been in outstanding form, and fellow midfielder Ivan Rakitic to deliver the goods.

Modric scored a peach of a goal from a distance against Argentina and along with FC Barcelona’s Rakitic, has been pulling the strings brilliantly for his national team.

The younger crop of Croatia players like Ante Rebic, Mateo Kovacic, and Marcelo Brozovic has also risen to the occasion making them a threat.

Rebic, along with Andrej Kramaric and Ivan Perisic may feature ahead of the midfield duo of Modric and Rakitic. Mario Mandzukic will lead Croatia’s attack.

Denmark, meanwhile, is happy to continue flying under the radar, buoyed by a 17-match unbeaten run. They have scored just two goals in three Group C games, finishing as runners-up, but will face their sternest test yet on Sunday.

They too are seeking to match their 1998 achievement when they reached the quarter-finals before being beaten by Brazil in what was their best World Cup showing.

Denmark coach, Age Hareide, wants his side to play more attacking football against Croatia and the team will rely heavily on key player Christian Eriksen for that.

“We know that we don’t seem like the most fearsome bunch to go up against,” midfielder Thomas Delaney was quoted as saying.

“We’re not going to lose 0-5 by trying to play tiki-taka football. But people shouldn’t get used to seeing us play like we did against France,” the Werder Bremen player added.

“It’s seldom that we play like this, and the game against Croatia will be a very different spectacle.”

Denmark have a strong defense with a center-back pairing of captain Simon Kjaer, Andreas Cristensen, and Mathias Jorgensen. In goal is Leicester City star, Kasper Schmeichel.

The expected attacking options are Nicolai Jorgensen, Yussuf Polusen, Celta Vigo’s Pione Sisto and Eriksen, with the latter tasked with creativity.

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