EURO 2020 review: Croatia
Tuesday, June 29, 2021
Croatia team reporter Elvir Islamović catches his breath after seeing them "fall like heroes" against Spain.
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Croatia's main UEFA EURO 2020 goal was to make the knockout phase and they did that. Not in the most spectacular way, but they did it.
Although they played a heroic last-16 match against Spain, and they earned the ovation from their fans, I can't get away from the impression that they could have done something really big here.
What were the positives?
Croatia showed once again that they have quality for the future. There were eight players at UEFA EURO 2020 who were not at the 2018 FIFA World Cup and some young talents rightly cemented their places in future squads. Reaching the round of 16 and falling like heroes against Spain will be remembered.
The sensational Copenhagen comeback from two goals down in the dying minutes against Spain was one of the best things I have seen from Croatia. You need to have a big drive and huge motivation to do that. I was maybe hoping that they would use that momentum and finish it in extra time, but it didn't end that way.
What the future holds
This might be the last EURO for Luka Modrić, but fans need not fear for the future of Croatia. His successor, Mateo Kovačić, has been playing at the top level in Europe for ten years and is still only 27. Joško Gvardiol, Luka Ivanušec and Domagoj Bradarić joined the squad directly from the Under-21 EURO quarter-final in Slovenia and, with some other young guns already in the team, plus experience from other key players, this side should remain a force for a long time.
Predictions for the rest of EURO 2020
We have already seen that anything is possible. I was almost certain that France would take the trophy, but I will stick now with my second favourites: Belgium. I think they will beat Italy and Spain on their way to the final. And they will defeat England there.