2018 WORLD CUP- (I WON’T COME HOME…) England’s hopes for the world cup dashes as Croatia takes the lead with a 2 – 1 win for the semi finals game.
The second finalist of the 2018 world cup emerged today after another 120minutes of play between England and Croatia. Obviously, Croatia emerged victorious for the third time of 120 minutes of play. Many hard expected England to carry the day. Again, this year’s tournament maintained its record of massive unpopular results.
I always regarded Croatia as the dark horse of the tournament. They looked to me after their 2nd round game as a team on a date with history. They have come across as a team with solid technical prowess sustained with unbelievable doggedness. With 2 astonishingly stable and consistent technicians in Rackitic and Modric, the masterfully despatch their opponents, with a patient but intentional approach. Croatia, survived through the tournament applying intelligence in their approach with an obvious reflection of the quality of their bench.
Coming from behind thrice in this tournament, they never showed any sign of panic in those situations. Being solid defensively, they relied on the inventive leadership and influence of the aforementioned technicians and Mandzukic going forward with the terrific collaborative contribution of Perisic. While the bench consistently made impactful tactical substitutions. This team is not top flamboyant but not in lack of spectacle in any ramification. Technically, they are a delight to watch.
For the most part of the game, they forced England to play where they were deficient. On the day, Croatia, are the deserved winners. Thanks to a collective effort of a team rich in: chemistry, technique, belief, doggedness, intelligence, etc.
Obviously, playing in the semi-finals of any world cup is a massive achievement. Let alone for an English team that has found it difficult to go beyond the quarter-finals. Leaving at the second round, most of the time. Congratulations to the team led by manager- Gareth Southgate, for going this far against all expectations.
The English squad from the beginning was deficient in the middle of the pack. Lacked obvious creativity. This left the players looking lost and out of ideas when faced with difficulty in games. Looking to be playing for a draw/penalties in such situations. Throughout the tournament, the team relied on set pieces and long balls to win games. With no disrespect, England, was successful in this approach, due to the quality of the opponents the faced until this point. Set piece accounted for 9 of the 12 goals scored by the team in the tournament, which tells the story.
This time, FOOTBALL, refused to be robbed in the final game (of spectacle, excitement and fun), and all other form of happiness that the game is expected to offer but just to win a game. Harry Kane leads the race for the golden boot with 6 goals (3 from spot kick and 2 from set piece). Many have argued Kane did not live up to expectation in terms of influence on the team and the games he played in. Which I believe is as a result of poor creativity and feed from the midfield.
Congratulations to Croatia for against all predictions have made to the finals of this year’s tournament. Congratulations to England as well, especially GARETH SOUTHGATE for his bravery in choosing a young squad and surpassing every expectation.
We look forward to an exciting final. Who knows, the tournament may maintain its record of giving us shocking results
The team approached and played the tournament relying on their strength(long balls n set pieces), which obviously is not enough to win the tournament.
Analysis and article written by Reginald Uche.
Footballer and football analysist – USA.
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