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PREVIEW: Croatia can’t dwell on past as Canada test looms – SABC News


Croatia’s performances at the World Cup have resulted in either a group stage exit or a place in the semi-finals or beyond, and with just one game to play in Qatar 2022, Sunday’s match against Canada, it already feels like it is decisive.

A 0-0 draw against Morocco on Wednesday, in which Zlatko Dalic’s side had just two attempts on goal, already left them two points behind group leaders Belgium, who beat the Canadians 1-0 in their opener.

So a draw or loss against Canada will leave Croatia needing to get something out of their final group game against the Belgians, who are in second place.

Dalic will be hoping that their performance against Morocco, in which they seemed to lack sharpness down the stretch, was down to early tournament issues rather than anything more fundamental.

However, after their superb performance in Russia, comparisons will inevitably be drawn with the team that ended up being beaten 4-2 by France in the final in Moscow.

Dalic was keen not to look back as he spoke to reporters after the draw at Al-Bayt Stadium, with the need to move forward echoing the refrain.

“Four-and-a-half years have passed and Croatia has an almost completely new national team… we can’t make comparisons between two generations of players,” he said.

“This is another World Cup that we have prepared. We know we’re good, we know we can do it. We are ready to fight further.”

There were some positives to take from the game against Morocco, mainly in defense where they mostly didn’t trouble themselves.

Twenty-year-old centre-back Josko Guardiol looked completely at ease on his World Cup debut and his partnership with veteran Dejan Lovren looked good.

Still, Dalic has work to do if they are to challenge again, and history says the tournament will only go one of two ways.

Croatia is making its sixth appearance at the World Cup, having been knocked out at the group stage three times and making stunning runs twice, reaching the semi-finals in 1998 and the final the last time.

If they weren’t sure which side they were going to face in Canada, they will have a much clearer idea after John Herdman’s side gave Belgium a run for their money.

A missed penalty by Alphonse Davies got Belgium off the hook before Michy Batshuayi’s late goal sealed the points.

Far from overwhelmed, the performance gave Herdman confidence that Canada has nothing to fear from Croatia.

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