A medal has been secured, and Krešo Ivanković’s team has the opportunity to become Croatia’s second generation with European gold in the cadet category, reports Jutarnji List.
So far, these have been U18 competitions 18, but due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Euros were not held last year, and as a U19 competition was postponed to this year. Croatia has gold from the U18 European Championship in 2006 and two silver medals, one from 2004 and 2016.
The semifinal between Croatia and Slovenia was a duel of teams that know each other at heart. After all, before the Championship, they played two preparatory matches – one in which Slovenia celebrated, and the other a draw. However, in the most crucial match, Croatia was better.
It was a victory won primarily by Croatia’s defense, a victory they controlled from the beginning, although Slovenia was always close. Slovenia, however, could not reach Croatia’s advantage, which for most of the match was +3.
With two goals by David Jurišić, Croatia went to +3 for the first time in the 9th minute, and even then, Slovenia had to call a timeout. Then, Ivan Barbić increased the lead to +4 (6:2) in the 13th minute. After that, Croatia had +4 (7:3 and 8:4) on two more occasions, and in the 27th minute, Slovenia came to -1, which is how the first half ended.
Dominik Kuzmanović recorded six saves from 15 shots on goal (40%) in the first 30 minutes, and Denis Strašek had five saves, of which one 7-meter throw taken by Barbić. Lisac and Jurišić, who also played the whole game in defense, had three goals each, but they missed goals from the left outside (Grubišić 1/4 and Hršak 0/1).
The second half started with Kuzmanović’s defense, and with two goals by Jurišić, Croatia went to +3 again (12:9) in the 33rd minute. Croatia mostly maintained that advantage until the end. The closest Slovenia managed was -2.
In the last 10 minutes, Croatia received three goals from Patrik Hršak from the left-wing while Slovenia tried to press in the end, but it didn’t help. Croatia’s David Jurišić scored seven goals from 13 attempts, Barbić scored 6 out of 7, and Lisac 6 out of 9, but the key to victory was the defense.
Croatia played six games in this Championship and has lost only once.
This Croatia squad already has one gold from EYOF two years ago, but now they have the opportunity to receive one from a more important competition.
Croatia will face Germany in the final, which beat Croatia in the last game of the second round.
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