Ivan Zezelj’s Croatia v Czech Republic preview: Modric and co. must be very careful about Patrik Schick
Our Matchday Squad journalist will be covering Croatia throughout Euro 2020
Croatia didn’t open Euro 2020 well after a 1-0 loss against England at Wembley. Southgate got his line-up calls right and Kalvin Phillips overshadowed Modric, Brozovic and Kovacic in the middle. The Leeds midfielder then also served Raheem Sterling with an excellent through ball to score past Livakovic.
I’ve already mentioned that set-pieces are Croatia’s biggest problem, but against the Three Lions, we saw Dalic’s squad lack creativity and penetration in the attack. That’s nothing new, but the problem is that it has persisted for a long time now.
Even Dalic admitted it but he kept his potential solution in the shape of Nikola Vlasic on the bench. The ‘Everton flop’ is by far the most productive Croatian national player. He led the Europa League and the Russian Premier League in key passes per 90 minutes last season, with 4.4 in Europe and 2.8 in the domestic league.
Modric and co. must be very careful about Patrik Schick, who scored two against Scotland, but even more important will still be defending set-pieces. The first Czech goal against the Scots came after the first free kick. In addition, the Croatians must keep an eye on Coufal and Soucek, two key Czech Republic players after Schick, the early golden boot contender.
Croatia is more than just a paper favourite, and nothing short of a victory over the Czech Republic is expected. But to win, they’ll need to show a lot more than what they did against England.