FIFA World Cup Today Matches


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End of the Road: Croatia on their World Cup Exit

End of the Road: Croatia on their World Cup Exit

Finish: Third place, Group stage

(Featured Image: Croatia players | source: FIFA)

 

Croatia experienced both the ups and downs (mostly the latter) of their 2014 FIFA World Cup campaign, following double defeats from Brazil and Mexico and a rousing clean sheet victory over Cameroon. The side badly needed a win (for their final fixture in the Group stage) in order to advance to the Round of 16, but Mexico—their last rivals—proved to be a very resilient opposition to bring down. The 1-3 finish meant that Croatia had to settle with three points and leave the competition after only ranking third in Group A. They were one of the first few sides to be eliminated in the FIFA tournament.

 

Croatia opened their World Cup streak with a disappointing (and controversial) loss to host country, Brazil. They suffered a poor penalty when Fred flopped and the referee pointed to the spot. Shortly after, the team had a goal disallowed after a questionable foul call on Ivica Olic. Despite their inhospitable curtain raiser, Vatreni managed to pull off a stunning retaliation. They trounced Cameroon on a clean sheet with four goals scored and apparently, conceding none.

 

After losing their final battle to El Tri, Croatia gracefully accepted their downfall. Coach Niko Kovac stood in defense of his players following disappointments and emotional reactions from fans.

 

“I can’t criticize the players too much; we did what we could,” said the team top brass. “We controlled the midfield in the first half, but in the second, we had to switch formation to give us more chance of a goal and we ended up losing that area. In the end we couldn’t spring a surprise, but life goes on.”

 

In spite of having an accomplished set of talents, Croatia lacked enough experience to subdue their more veteran opponents. The fans were generally forgiving but the local media have been a little bit harsh; some even called the defeat a “catastrophe.”

 

The Croatian players are relatively young, but it is not their fault. The loss does not also mean they are giving up. In fact, Kovac is looking forward to a much brighter future especially now that they have added new and valuable experiences to take some lessons from.

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