Peru Shocks Croatia in Miami: Dalić Records First Defeat with Modrić and Co.

Daniela Rogulj

The Croatian national football team entered their first defeat under the leadership of Zlatko Dalić on March 23, 2018. In a friendly match against Peru in Miami, they were defeated 0:2.

It was the first of the four preliminary matches the Croatian national team will play before the start of the World Cup in Russia. Continuing the North American tour, Croatia will play against Mexico on March 27th in Dallas, followed by a match against five-time world champion Brazil on June 3rd in England, and Senegal five days later in Osijek. 

Croatia played Peru at Miami’s Hard Rock Stadium in a new set dark blue and black reserve jerseys, and unfortunately, such tones painted the team and their game for most of the match. Dalić, meanwhile, has said that the results in the United States are not imperative, but that the game against Peru would simulate Croatia’s expectation of Argentina in Russia. If this game is any indicator of the World Cup match in June, I think we’d all be better off switching our televisions to another channel. 

From the first attack of the game, the many problems in Croatia’s defense, led by Ćorluka and Vida, were evident as the South Americans ran circles around the team and capitalized quickly on their mistakes. The first goal of the match was already in the 12th minute after the errors of Ćorluka and Strinić. The Croatian defense did not manage to clear the ball away from the penalty area, and after the ball found Strinić’s boot, the defender ended up assisting to Carrillo, who, with a lot of luck, beat Subašić.

Croatia received the second goal at the start of the second half. Farfan easily beat Vida, whose shot was saved by Subašić. Flores, however, was poorly marked by Ćorluka and still found the back of the net with a rebound for 2:0.

While we expected the defense to have problems with the Peruvians, the real surprise is that Modrić, Rakitić and Brozovic convincingly lost the war in the midfield. Dalić substituting Kovoačić for Brozović at the start of the second half didn’t help either, nor did Yotun’s second yellow for Peru where Croatia played with a man up for the last 20 minutes of the game. Perišić and Mandžukić were harmless on the wings, and Kalinić was impotent against the Peruvian defenders. If Vrsaljko didn’t have a few brilliant breaks and quality crosses, the question would be whether the ball would find Peru’s penalty area at all.

Peru could have scored a few more goals in the second half, and Croatia was the closest in the last five minutes of the match after Kramarić entered the game. The Hoffenheim striker failed to score in the 86th minute when his strike just missed the goal, which was followed by two lost duels with the Peruvian goalkeeper.

Croatia, who suffered their first defeat since Dalić came on the bench, will play a new friendly game on Wednesday against Mexico. Dalić has announced Croatia’s B team for the duel. 

Peru is currently 11th in the world and is unbeaten in the last eight qualifying rounds. Peru reached their first World Cup in 36 years after defeating New Zealand in additional qualifiers. 



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