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A draw that Ukraine won and Modric lost: tactical review of the game Croatia - Italy

Artem RossinskySport
Modric's goal snatches victory over Italy

Yesterday, we learned the teams that qualified from Quartet B. And while Spain easily won the group, the battle for second place in the qualifiers was a life-and-death affair. The teams left all the drama for the second half, and there was a lot of nerves. In the last seconds, Italy managed to turn its bus into an attacking one and finally win. OBOZ.UA talks about the decisive battle of the death group, which turned out to be really fantastic.

Starting lineups

Italy: Donnarumma - Di Lorenzo, Bastoni, Calafiori, Darmian - Barella, Giorgino - Raspadori, Pellegrini, Dimarco - Retegi

Croatia: Livakovic - Stanisic, Šutalo, Pongračić, Guardiola - Modric, Brozović, Kovacic - Sučić, Kramaric, Pasealic

The first half. Calmness versus haste

Croatia started the game with reconnaissance: they needed to understand how the opponent would act in the defensive phase. The Italians' first touch of the ball came in the 4th minute! Donnarumma made it when a long possession by the Croats ended in a clearance. It's easy to explain: before the game, many said that the Balkans should be more aggressive and score first to control the game. That's why Squadra Azzurra was looking closely and cautiously waiting for the Croatians to get tired. They were also satisfied with a draw, as it was not bad to sit back.

Italy's passive play postponed its switch on. In the first half, they abandoned dangerous passes and counterattacks. The maximum was a large-scale pressure and 6 players close to Livakovic. The Croats responded in the same way, only they clamped down on the number of people who held the ball. The confrontation at the Balkans' goal resulted in a considerable number of corners, from which the Italians squeezed the maximum sharpness. The best moment of the game also came from a corner - Barella threw into the penalty area for Bastoni, and he headed it under the crossbar. But what a save the Croatian goalkeeper made!

A draw that Ukraine won and Modric lost: tactical review of the game Croatia - Italy

Croatia's charge can be described by Modric's breakthrough - he challenged Jorginho and Raspadori when he tried to break through the flank on his own and ran about thirty meters. The bold football of his team looked very interesting, the players constantly changed positions on the field and were flexible enough to surprise with their appearance in a new zone. Guardiola often came to the striking position - in the first half of this match he was much brighter than in the previous two in general. The Italians were also not given space - as soon as Pellegrini got the opportunity to run forward, Sucic undoubtedly just took down the opponent with a foul on the yellow.

Spalletti boldly released three newcomers in the start: Raspadori, Retegui and Darmian - players of all three lines. And the latter in the defense in the first half was the most surprising, collecting several dangerous scraps. The Italians were good in the center, with Barella and Jorginho forcing the Checkereds to play through the flank (the same running work for the centers). The Croats responded with a mirror image of a powerful center: Kovacic, Modric and Brozovic did a lot of running work. The first half ended in a scoreless draw, and Donnarumma's team benefited from it.

A draw that Ukraine won and Modric lost: tactical review of the game Croatia - Italy

Second half. Why did Italy escape only in the last seconds?

In the second half, Italy started extremely low: the tactic of "sitting in their own half" turned into the tactic of "sitting at the goal." Croatia attacked wide and varied - it was a punishment for the Blues for their frivolity. Who could have executed this punishment if not Modric? And not from a penalty kick, but from the game, when he understood the penalty area best and reacted to a rebound from a few meters. Donnarumma's anger could be heard from Leipzig even in Ukraine - he was so tired of constantly making saves. It happened in the game against Spain and it continued against Croatia.

The Italians had been defending a lot before, and it was a defense for nothing. It was because of the lack of emphasis in the squad and passivity that they were not considered candidates even for the Euro semifinals. After the goal, Spalletti apparently felt the goalkeeper's anger, which is why he released two combatants in the center - Chiesa and Fratesi. Their release increased the speed, Italy appeared more often in the opponent's third, combined more boldly, and there were forward passes for aggravation (which were not present at all in the first half).

A draw that Ukraine won and Modric lost: tactical review of the game Croatia - Italy

And how desperately the Magpies defended: Pongrancic, Šutalo, Stanisic, Guardiola - if the midfield allowed a breakthrough to the flank and a cross from there, this four defenders were guaranteed to interrupt the flow. Inspired by Modric's dedication, the gates were closed so tightly that Squadra Azzurra was left without a shot on target. Brozovic and Modric were very hard-working midfielders and appeared on every part of the field. Despite their age, there was no fatigue behind them, only a desire to get the ball forward as quickly and accurately as possible. The substitution of the latter was accompanied by applause for a long time.

The result of the match was absolutely... not natural. Croatia played to win and deserved to take 3 points. The Italians became as active as possible after the substitutions and showed high activity at the other side's goal, but spent 45 minutes without a shot on target. That was until the 98th minute: Calafiore joined the attacks a lot and this time he did not lose when he rolled out to Zaccagni with his last strength. He came on as a substitute and scored a beautiful first goal for the national team. 1:1 - everything went well for both Italy and Ukraine. Zlatko Dalic's team is heading to the third place table and still has to wait for the other participants.

A draw that Ukraine won and Modric lost: tactical review of the game Croatia - Italy

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