England vs Croatia: 5 areas where England lost the game to Croatia
When Croatia walked out to face England at Luzhniki Stadium in Moscow on Wednesday in the second semi-final of the FIFA World Cup, both sides had contrasting stories about them. England were the only team in the semi-finals who had come second in the group but they had grown in stature and confidence as the tournament progressed. They had defeated a strong Columbian side in the round of 16 and had achieved a dominating win against Sweden in the quarter-final. With every passing game, the cries of “It’s coming home” were getting louder and stronger and had become deafening now.
Croatia, on the other hand were not the fan favourites, but a team that was composed, ruthless and uncompromising. They had shown their steel in the round of 16 and the Quarter Finals, edging out first Denmark and then Russia with impressive ruthlessness. They knew they had it in them to make it to the finals to face France. In a pulsating end to end affair, Croatia had 22 attempts on goal, with 7 of them on target. England had 11 attempts on goal, with 2 of them on target. Croatia had 54% possession and attempted 627 passes, while England attempted 479 passes. Croatia recovered the ball 51 times to England’s 48, and had 16 tackles, whereas England had 4.
Even after going ahead by a Trippier free-kick at the 5th minute of the game and leading for more than 60 minutes, England could not hold on and Croatia equalized through Perisic in the 68th minute, before Mandzukic won the game in the 109th minute. England succumbed to a heartbreaking defeat and there are five areas where England lost the game to Croatia.
#5 England defence lost its compactness as the game wore on
Initially, England were neat and tight in defense. The 5 at the back held their lines well and were properly shielded by the 3 in front of them. Dele Ali, Henderson and Lingard ensured that there were no space between the defense and the midfield for Croatia to work on. Every loose ball was quickly closed down and the wings were shut off, with Young and Trippier paying extra attention to Perisic and Rebic. But as the game progressed, and especially after conceding the goal, the English defense regularly switched off. The midfield also starting giving unnecessary ball away. England started to retreat and Croatia pounced on them. Rakitic started growing into the game and Modric found the space to churn his magic. Even Perisic and Rebic began to find space and time on the ball.