Croatia is aiming to repeat its incredible World Cup success from four years ago in Russia. After a 1-1 draw at Al Janoub Stadium, they defeated Japan 3-1 on penalties to go to the quarterfinals. On Friday, they’ll compete against either South Korea or Brazil. For sports betting fiesta and top casinos check out our website!
Ivan Perisic’s thunderous header early in the second half helped the Croatians tie the game after going down against the tournament underdogs shortly before halftime. This at least partially disrupted Japan’s preferred script. Dominik Livakovic stopped the opening two Japanese penalties to give Croatia a lopsided advantage in the shootout since neither team could make a compelling case for earning the victory in extra time. The Croatians flocked to the field after Mario Pasalic blasted the final penalty past Shuichi Gonda following yet another Livakovic save.
Daizen Maeda’s close-range shot gave Japan, the tournament’s undisputed Cinderella after they defeated Germany and Spain in the group round, the lead shortly before halftime. It appeared they may pull off another shock. However, Croatia was more accurate after the break and had better opportunities as the game went on following a first half in which they were sometimes too careless in possession.
Kaoru Mitoma’s deflected attempt in the opening half of extra time gave Japan some optimism, but ultimately they could not produce any more late drama. The outcome seemed predictable as Takumi Minamino and Mitoma missed from the spot.
Croatia’s coach, Zlatko Dalic, was keen to portray his team as the spirited underdogs they have proven themselves to be in European football, even though they were unquestionably the betting favorite going into the game. Check 18bet out for more amazing sports offers!
Croatia has a population of 4 million people, thus the accomplishments they have made on the international scene are extraordinary, according to Dalic. It’s difficult to contest the fact that they upset Spain in the round of 16 of Euro 2020 after becoming unexpected finalists in Russia, and now they’re back in the semifinals.
Although the seasoned Real Madrid playmaker Luka Modric remains the center of attention, their caliber extends far beyond. Their initial objective was a stunning display of individual excellence. Dejan Lovren fired in a soaring cross after a few aimless passes, and Perisic crushed it with a header from 15 yards out. Gonda’s dive was just for show.
By the time of the shootout, Modric, Perisic, Mateo Kovacic, and Andrej Kramaric had all been replaced, which undoubtedly raised some questions. However, the coach’s confidence in his bench was demonstrated as Croatia prevailed.
Perisic’s skill at the World Cup is also worthy of note; in addition to tying the score in this game, he also scored tying goals in the semifinal and championship games four years ago. His six World Cup goals in his career are tied for the most in Croatian history with Davor Suker, who won the Golden Boot at the 1998 World Cup.
This match was marred by the psychological repercussions of what occurred to the Japanese in 2018 when they conceded three goals in the closing 21 minutes to lose 3-2 to Belgium in the round of 16 in Russia. Yuto Nagatomo, a veteran, claimed during the buildup that the outcome tormented him and that for the last four years, random recollections from the evening had forced him to relive the sadness.
While the shootout was disappointing from the off, they were uneasy playing with the advantage in the second half, and their lauded counterattack never quite connected as the game wore on.
Ultimately, a tournament that served as motivation for Japan comes to a devastating conclusion.
What was Croatia’s reward for enduring 120 minutes of passionate back-and-forth combat? Either a South Korean team mounting an incredible upset, or, more likely, tournament favorites Brazil.
Even though Modric, who is now 37, can still change any game, it’s difficult to argue that Croatia wouldn’t have a puncher’s chance at this point. However, Brazil’s depth will be a significant advantage. Croatia battled through a trying end to the group stage and traveled far to get here, so physical and mental exhaustion will play a part.
They accomplished it four years ago, and they can certainly do it again. Furthermore, a hot goalkeeper is always the great equalizer, and Livakovic will be flying after making three saves in the shootout.