Saturday, 25 June 2016

Croatia v Portugal - Match Analysis



Heading into today's round of 16, of all three Saturday fixtures this game is set up to be the feature. Taking into account both of the teams previous results in their last group game, it'd be surprising if this game wasn't a thriller. Croatia stunned all with a classy display and a convincing 2-1 win over holders Spain, whilst Portugal were enthralled in a 3-3 draw with first placed Hungary in group F.

Portugal have been off the boil so far this tournament, whilst far from awful they still have a lot to prove in the coming game, main man Cristiano Ronaldo will set to be the focal point if they are to come away with a win. Croatia themselves reached the quarter finals in 2008, and with Luka Modric passed fit, have it all to play for to better themselves compared to previous years.

Quick statistics board before they take to kick off doesn't look great for Croatia, as Portugal have won all three of their encounters, scoring six goals and conceding none. Although they are unbeaten in their last 10 internationals (W8 D2), the longest current run among all teams involved at Euro 2016.
As kick off went through, Croatia started strongly, as was the case for a lot of the first half, Luka Modric of Real Madrid and rival team Barcelona's Ivan Rakitic kept hold of possession, although there wasn't much to show for it. Portugal's game plan seemed to suit the situation though, looking for an inkling on the break for Nani and Ronaldo.

Cagey games are expected throughout the last 16, but it seemed pretty unassuming of both teams, especially for Croatia who definitely will be looking to take the game to the Portuguese contingency.

A second half was just as disappointing, with little chances and no shot on target, as end to end as this game has been you can't help but feel disappointed considering the talent on show. Both teams fans, players and unbiased a like know that penalties are coming. The objective is to see it out, the less risk of conceding the better, damage limitation at its finest.

In what seems a very sparse game, I apologise for jinxing the situation in which I stated this could be a classic. Hopefully penalties will liven up the situation, although from what we can judge so far maybe it will have to go sudden death after both sides miss five. Here I am preaching to the choir, and Portugal score the potential winner. Nani returning the favour with a splendid through ball to Ronaldo, the keeper did fantastic to parry but sadly into the path of substitute Quaresma.

A flurry of players up into the Portugal penalty box, Croatia throwing the kitchen sink and all the utensils, Pjaca pushed in the box and you have to think more honest players would of gone down. A final push as keeper Subasic came up into the box, with an absolutely magnificent attempt at goal from defender Vida, as his acrobatic attempt skimmed the outside of the post.

Portugal pulled off a fantastic, if not plucky smash and grab job, even redefining the term. Croatia for all their efforts still struggled to get a shot on target, commiserations to them in the loss.

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