Croatia and France met for the 2nd round of the Nations League on Monday at Poljud Stadium in Split. Croatia opened this year’s Nations League with a shock 0:3 defeat to Austria in Osijek. France also lost their opening match against Denmark 1:2.
Both Croatia and France were weakened due to injuries. Croatia was without Ivan Perišič, Marko Livaja, Joško Gvardiol, and Petar Musa. For France, Mbappe, Benzema, Kante, and Coman did not properly train with the team last night. Croatia, however, has yet to beat France.
As coach Zlatko Dalić said at the press conference last night, France even without their usual stars is still France – and even their B team is a force to be reckoned with.
Tonight is also Croatia captain Luka Modrić’s 150th appearance for the Croatia national team. He made his debut on March 1, 2006, in Croatia’s 3:2 victory against Argentina. Luka has scored 21 goals in 149 games so far, participated in three World Cups and four European Championships, and has been the team captain since 2016.
Croatia: Livaković, Juranović, Erlić, Vida, Barišić, Brozović, Kovačić, Modrić, Majer, Brekalo, Budimir
France: Maignan, Pavard, Saliba, Kimpembe, Digne, Guendouzi, Tchouaméni, Diaby, Rabiot, Nkunku, Ben Yedder
Croatia maintained possession for the first five minutes of the match, with a few potential attacks in the penalty area. Croatia’s first corner came in the 6th minute. Luka played short to Brekalo, who played back to Luka and then Majer for a shot off target.
France picked up the pace in the next 5 minutes and had their first corner in the 10th minute.
Juranović headed out a close encounter for France for their second corner of the match in the 12th minute. Kovačić played Budimir into the penalty spot the minute after which was cleared by the France defense.
Croatia’s defense was solid tonight in comparison to the debacle last weekend in Osijek. Calm, collected, and without any mishaps so far.
Croatia’s best chance of the match came in the 18th minute – Kovačić played a brilliant through ball to Budimir who shot near post forcing a tricky save for the France keeper. The ball went out for a corner.
France had another chance in the 23rd minute which was shot wide.
A minute later a breakaway for Kovačić saw him fouled outside the box. The ref decided to play advantage for Croatia instead, and France won back possession.
Lovro Majer was fouled in France’s half which the ref did not call. France then pushed up the pitch and scored an offside goal in the 31st minute.
Croatia was awarded a free kick in the 33rd minute but Vida was offside.
Livakovic made a brilliant save after Vida let Diaby get a shot off in the 39th minute – and another save moments after that. France had another corner in the 40th minute and another two corners three minutes later. Croatia’s defense had no problem clearing the play.
One minute of stoppage time was added to the first half. The match was 0:0.
The second half started without any substitutions.
Lovro Majer sent a stunning pass through the France defense, which found Ante Budimir’s head, but the ball went wide of the goal.
But it was France to score first. Rabiot made it 0:1 in the 52nd minute.
Croatia moved the ball nicely into France’s half in the 57th minute and was dangerous in front of the France keeper but could not get a shot off.
Juranović found Budimir at the top of the box and played it back to Brozovic who couldn’t find his footing to shoot.
France subbed off Ben Yedder for Griezmann, and Kamara for Tchouameni. For Croatia, Majer came off for Pasalic and Brekalo for Orsic.
Budimir was fouled just outside the box in the 63rd minute which the ref allowed them to play on.
Dalic subbed off Budimir for Kramaric in the 68th minute.
Luka had a great chance in the 70th minute. He cut back to his left foot to shoot on target, forcing the France keeper to make a diving save.
Livakovic made a brilliant save in the 75th minute to ensure the match stayed 0:1.
Luka Modric was subbed off for Luka Sucic and Mateo Kovacic for Nikola Vlasic in the 78th minute.
Croatia had another chance in the 80th minute which was ultimately called for a penalty thanks to VAR. Kramaric made it 1:1 in the 82nd minute!
Vlasic shot on target in the 86th minute forcing the ball out for a corner. A Croatia mishap in the defense almost cost them the match two minutes later, but Griezmann shot wide of an empty goal.
The ref added 4 minutes of stoppage time to the match in which neither team was able to score – though Sucic had a great chance. The match ended 1:1.
Croatia plays Denmark next in Copenhagen on Friday, June 10.
For more, make sure to check out our dedicated sports section.