The Croatia national team met France in the 4th round of the Nations League at Stade de France in Paris on Monday. It was Croatia’s 5th time playing at the famous French stadium.
Going into this match, Denmark lead the group with six points, Austria and Croatia had four points each, while France sat at the bottom with two points. France needed a win tonight to have any hope of getting out of the group and avoid relegation in the Nations League.
Before this match, Croatia recorded six defeats and three draws in nine matches against the current world champion France, with a goal difference of 9-20.
France: Maignan – Koundé, Konaté, Kimpembe, Digne – Kamara, Guendouzi, Rabiot – Nkunku, Mbappé, Benzema
Croatia: Ivušić – Stanišić, Erlić, Šutalo, Juranović – Brozović, Modrić, Kovačić – Pašalić, Budimir, Brekalo
Croatia had their first corner of the match in the 3rd minute after a nice attack into France’s half. Budimir fell in the box during the play which forced the ref to look at VAR for a penalty check. The ref called a penalty for Croatia which Luka Modrić scored for 0:1 Croatia in the 5th minute!
Mbappé had a shot on target which Ivusic saved Tchouameni.
France picked up the intensity in the 12th minute, testing Croatia’s defense in the box, but the center backs cleared any danger. Croatia had a counter moments later which saw France’s keeper and Budimir clash just outside of the box. Croatia was awarded a free kick which Modric hit at the keeper.
It was a match of fouls called for Croatia, with Brekalo elbowed in the nose in the 18th minute. Fortunately, he was well enough to continue the match.
Mbappé was dangerous again in the 22nd minute, though Croatia managed to stop him before he got a shot off.
France danced around Croatia’s half for the next few minutes until Brozovic fouled to stop the play. Nkunku had an excellent chance in the 28th minute which went just wide of Croatia’s goal.
Croatia finally regained possession and moved into France’s half in the 30th minute. Juranovic crossed to Budimir in the box a minute later which went off his head back into the play.
A quick Croatia counter in the 34th minute saw Juranovic play Budimir in the box which the France keeper got to first. Croatia denied Mbappe and Benzema from getting a shot off in the following play.
Juranovic found Budimir again in a similar play in the next few minutes. Budimir shot near post which went out for a Croatia corner.
France calmly held possession for the next few minutes, but a Croatia counter in the 43rd minute got them back in the game. Croatia’s defense remained solid in the back to keep them ahead before the half. France even hit the near post net a minute before the half and headed over the goal! The match was 0:1 for Croatia at halftime.
France made two changes at halftime – Pavard and Tchouameni came on for Konude and Kamara.
France had their first dangerous attack in the 46th minute. Mbappe dribbled to the goal line and crossed into the box which the Croatia defense cleared with a header. Tchouameni shot at Ivusic a minute later.
Budimir was one-on-one with the France keeper in the 49th minute and shot over the crossbar.
Benzema dribbled through the defense in the 53rd minute but Croatia was able to stop the play. Mbappe shot in the 54th minute which went wide of the goal.
Luka found Juranovic on the left wing in the 57th minute. The France defender headed it back which Juranovic attacked and played back to Pasalic who couldn’t quite get a shot off.
Ivusic made an incredible save with his foot to stop Mbappe from scoring in the 60th minute. The ball went out for a corner and Croatia cleared the play.
Dalic subbed off Pasalic for Majer in the 64th minute.
France was hungry for a goal in the following 5 minutes with a few threatening plays in Croatia’s box. Pavard’s shot was blocked by the Croatia defense. Chaos in the penalty area ended thanks to Sutalo who found Ivusic and stopped the play.
Brekalo found Majer at the top of the box in the 71st minute which was saved by the France keeper. Budimir came out for Kramaric and Brekalo for Vlasic in the 73rd minute. France subbed on Coman for Nkunku.
Coman dribbled to the goal line for a France corner in the 74th minute. Mbappe’s shot was saved by Ivusic.
A dangerous free kick for France was taken by Mbappe in the 77th minute and went over the goal.
Griezmann was subbed on in the 80th minute. Mbappe fouled Erlic moments later. France did not leave Croatia’s half.
A quick counter for Croatia came in the 83rd minute but France was quick to regain possession. Young Bayern defender Josip Stanisic was absolutely brilliant on the right side to stop Coman.
Rabiot shot over the goal in the 86th minute. Croatia was playing defense for most of the second half.
Croatia finally regained possession in the 87th minute. Vlasic shot at the keeper.
The ref added 4 minutes of stoppage time. Croatia played calmly in the remaining minutes but France picked up the intensity to get a goal. A dangerous chance in the final seconds just went wide of the goal. Konate headed over the goal in the final second. The ref blew the final whistle and Croatia recorded their first-ever win against France!
Croatia continues their Nations League campaign in September against Denmark at home and Austria away.
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