After defeating Argentina 3-0, Croatia booked their ticket to the knockout stage. Croatia is advancing to the knockout stage for the first since their magnificent Cinderella run in the 1998 World Cup tournament. The last time they made it past the Group stage, Croatia made it to the semifinals and finished third in the tournament.
Croatia has come a long way since 1998. In their last three tournaments, Croatia failed to make it past the Group stage. This is Croatia’s fifth World Cup tournament since the nation’s independence from Yugoslavia and after some very disappointing and mediocre results in major tournaments in the last 20 years. Croatia is eager to show the world they’re worthy of challenging for the title.
After being drawn into Group D alongside Argentina, Nigeria, and Iceland, most critics didn’t have Croatia making it out. However, Croatia has proven critics wrong with three strong victories. Croatia is off to a stronger start than their 1998 run. The team is motivated and focused just like they were in the 1998 tournament if not more in both aspects.
Croatia’s ability to play as a cohesive unit is how they’ve been successful so far, as well as motivation, concentration, and team chemistry. They’re a team that continues to play as if they’re not winning because they play through the entire game. That’s how focused the team is when they step on the pitch.
We’ve seen Croatia take advantage of every golden opportunity thrown at them. They also do a good job taking advantage of mistakes their opponents make. For example, they were able to circumvent the momentum favoring Iceland after they tied the game. Just as Iceland started to let their guard down in the 90th minute, Ivan Perisic scored to end Iceland’s hopes of advancement.
Croatia is certainly capable of being a true contender. They proved it by finishing with a perfect 3-0 record in group play, scoring seven goals and only surrendering one. Croatia takes on Denmark this Sunday in the Round of 16 and they’re looking to make a deep run like they did 20 years ago.
Croatia’s been waiting 20 years for a big moment and they aren’t letting it go to waste. With players like Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic scoring goals, setting up teammates, and playing defense, Croatia will be a tough out.