In the third fixture of group A, Croatia visited Denmark in Copenhagen hoping to get their first three points after losing to Austria in Osijek (0:3) and drawing against France in Split (1:1). The coach of the Croatia national team, Zlatko Dalić, has prepared a starting eleven with quite a few changes compared to the two previous games. The last time the two teams faced each other was at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia, where both drew 1:1 at the end of 120 minutes. Croatia won the match by penalties.
Croatia’s starting eleven to face Denmark: Dominik Livaković; Šime Vrsaljko, Martin Erlić, Josip Šutalo, Josip Juranović; Kristijan Jakić, Marcelo Brozović, Luka Ivanušec, Mario Pašalić, Mislav Oršić; Andrej Kramarić.
Denmark starting eleven: Kasper Schmeichel; Daniel Wass, Joachim Andersen, Andreas Christensen, Joakim Maehle; Pierre Emile Hojbjerg, Thomas Delaney, Christian Eriksen; Andreas Olsen, Andreas Cornelius, Mikkel Damsgaard.
Denmark was superior to Croatia in the first half. There was not a big difference in possession of the ball between the two teams, but the Danish offense created more danger in the first 45 minutes. It is worth noting the great defensive work of the two center backs Josip Šutalo, who made his debut today, and Martin Erlić. Both the Croatian midfield and offense couldn’t find a way to create much danger in the Danish area.
In the second half, the presence of Luka Modrić and Mateo Kovačić brought more ideas to the Croatian team, who were able to control the ball more calmly and therefore began to find ways to create clearer scoring chances. Finally, a goal from Mario Pašalić in the 69th minute would give Croatia victory and their first victory in the UEFA Nations League, curiously, after adding only one point from their two home games. Croatia climbs to third place in the table tied on points (4) with Austria. Despite the defeat, Denmark remains in the lead with 6 points.
The first 5 minutes of the match were of shared possession between both teams. In the 6th minute, Cornelius took advantage of a poor clearance by the Croatian defense for Denmark’s first attempt on goal, but his shot went high.
In the 8th minute of the match, Cornelius received a yellow card for dangerously contesting a ball with Croatian goalkeeper Livaković, who had to be treated by the doctors for a long time.
In the 11th minute, Joakim Maehle was left one on one with Livaković after a very good collective play. However, his shot went wide for the Croatian goal.
The first goal attempt for Croatia came from Dinamo Zagreb midfielder Mislav Oršić in the 13th minute, who tried to finish off a good Croatian counterattack, but his shot went high.
In the 40th minute, Cornelius again found a great opportunity to score after an error by Kristijan Jakić. The Danish forward put the ball to Livaković’s right post, but the Croatian goalkeeper responded with a great save.
Three minutes later, the referee disallowed a goal by Cornelius, after a foul by Maehle on Vršaljko when they were contesting for the ball inside the Croatian box.
The referee added 2 more minutes to the first half, and both teams went into the break tied 0:0. Possession at the end of the first half was 54% for Denmark and 46% for Croatia.
After the break, Dalić brought in three players. Josip Stanišić replaced Šime Vrsaljko, Mateo Kovačić replaced Kristijan Jakić, while Luka Ivanušec left the field for Luka Modrić
Luka Modrić, after a great individual play inside the Danish area in the 56th minute, crossed the ball into the small area but none of his teammates could convert the chance.
In the 58th minute, Mislav Oršić was replaced by Nikola Vlašić.
In the 60th minute, Andrej Kramarić had a great opportunity to convert Croatia’s first goal, with a powerful first-touch kick inside the box, but Kasper Schmeichel made an amazing save. However, the referee invalidated the play due to a previous offside.
In the 61st minute, the Danish team made its first three substitutions of the match, all at once. Rasmus Kristensen came on for Daniel Wass, Jonas Wind for Andreas Cornelius, and Martin Braithwaite for right-winger Mikkel Damsgaard.
In the 63rd minute, Luka Modrić found a space to shoot outside the box, but goalkeeper Schmeichel had no problem stopping his attempt.
In the 67th minute, Danish defender Joachim Andersen received his team’s second yellow card after a violent tackle on Andrej Kramarić. It could have been a red card.
A free throw was awarded after the foul. Luka Modrić put the ball into the box, and a clear attempt by Stanišić was deflected by a Danish defender.
The first goal of the match came for Croatia on the following corner kick in the 69th minute. Luka Modrić played short and found Brozović, who put a dangerous cross into the area that was first headed by Kramarić, and Mario Pašalić would find the ball at his feet to score Croatia’s first goal.
In the 75th minute, Stanišić would receive the first yellow card for Croatia as he attempted to stop Martin Braithwaite.
Christian Eriksen took the free-kick into the box but Braithwaite sent it well past Livaković’s goal.
In the 77th minute, Andrej Kramarić was replaced by Ante Budimir in a tactical substitution.
In the 82nd minute, Martin Braithwaite again missed a great opportunity for Denmark.
In the 83rd minute, Yussuf Poulsen came on to replace Andreas Olsen in the Danish team.
Three minutes later, after a great collective play, Marcelo Brozović found an opportunity to kick the ball outside the Danish box, but his shot went close to Schmeichel’s right post. The referee booked Ante Budimir for a foul on that play. It was the second yellow card for Croatia.
A minute later, in the 87th minute, the Danish team found the equalizer after a tangled play in the Croatian area, but the goal was disallowed for offside.
In the 90th minute, Yussuf Poulsen, who barely played ten minutes, was replaced by Robert Skov due to injury.
The referee added 5 more minutes to the match.
Brozović would have one more try in the 94th minute, but his shot went high. The referee ended the match in the 95th minute and Croatia took their first three UEFA Nations League points away from home.
Croatia will play France in Paris on June 13th.
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