World Cup 2018: 3 reasons why Croatia won 2-1 against Iceland
Wednesday night's Group D clash at the Rostov Stadium saw Croatia secure a 2-1 win against Iceland which helped them qualify for the next round as table toppers.
Croatia made nine changes from the squad that beat Argentina, with Modric and Perisic being the ones retained.
The first half was mostly dull as Croatia enjoyed most of the ball but lacked the spark in the final third to cause the Icelandic defence any major problems as such. Iceland defended deep for the initial minutes of the first half as Croatia's midfield duo of Luka Modric and Milan Badelj controlled proceedings.
Iceland's best chances came towards the end of the first which fell to Alfred Finnbogasson and Aron Gunnarsson, the latter forcing an excellent save from Lovre Kalinic.
Finally, the deadlock was broken by Croatia in the 53rd minute when Milan Badelj slotted past a helpless Halldorsson in goal.
The goal resulted in Iceland attack with more intent and finally got their equaliser in the 76th minute when Gylfi Sigurdsson scored from the spot after Lovren was adjudged to have handled the ball in the box.
The dying embers of the game saw Croatia seal top spot with a goal from Ivan Perisic.
In this article, we look at the three reasons why Croatia secured their victory over Iceland.
#1 Croatia bossed the midfield thereby preventing Iceland from having a say in the game
Croatia started the game with a 4-2-3-1 formation with Milan Badelj partner Luka Modric in midfield. During the game, Croatia converted into a three-man midfield with Mateo Kovacic falling deep and acting as the perfect link between attack and defence.
The Blazers enjoyed most of the possession, preventing the likes of Aron Gunnarsson, Emil Hallfredsson and Sigurdsson from assisting the forwards. Badelj had an excellent outing with a pass success rate of 89%, winning seven out of nine duels, scoring a goal and setting up another to help his side secure three points.
Another superb display from Modric saw him make three key passes and boast a pass success rate of an outstanding 92%.
The midfielder who plies his trade with Real Madrid regained possession on a number of occasions to maintain the game's flow.
Modric, along with Kovacic, displayed their flair which denied Iceland to exert any sort of control on the game, eventually depriving Iceland's forwards of any service from midfield.
Although Croatia failed to create any clear-cut chances in the first half, they kept winning possession back, hence not allowing Iceland to have significant time on the ball.