Analysis | Croatia 4-1 Canada: Three Talking Points

Canada’s defence outclassed
For all the progress Canada have made in recent years, they remain a team, and a footballing nation, under construction. Although Bayern Munich’s Alphonso Davies and Lille striker Jonathan David offer genuine quality, like many international teams, that quality isn’t matched in other areas of the team. A workmanlike defence has been a key reason for their downfall in both games and their aggressive style, which could even be deemed overly gung-ho by this tournament’s standards, has exposed a backline lacking top-level experience. John Herdman’s attempts to play expansive football should be lauded but, looking back, he may deem that style as a little too naïve.

Croatia learn to prioritise goal threat
After a frustratingly limp display against Morocco in their opening game, although that result has improved in hindsight after Morocco’s defeat of Belgium and given that other games in the early slot have been just as sluggish, Croatia were far more of a threat here thanks to some positive changes made by coach Zlatko Dalić. Although Croatia were aided by a naïve Canada side, Andrej Kramarić was far more dangerous following the introduction of fellow striker Marko Livaja from the start, both forwards scoring before the break. Greater freedom afforded Luka Modrić and Mateo Kovačić in midfield made the Europeans far more fluid and creative but whether Dalić will be bold enough to retain such a progressive outlook against tougher opponents remains to be seen.

Jonathan David disappointing
Despite being party to some of Canada’s snappy link-up play in both games so far, the Lille striker was again often frustratingly ponderous in his decision-making here despite picking up some promising positions. A now famously streaky player who struggled to settle in Lille initially before leading the French side to a Ligue 1 title that same season, the 21-year-old again gave the impression that he was a little overwhelmed by the pressure applied in leading the line for his nation at the World Cup, despite a superb club season so far, and was subbed early here. With Canada now out, the tournament has proved to be a step backwards for David, despite his teammates impressing and entertaining as a whole.

GWFN

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