Croatia and Bosnia Herzegovina had quite different evenings in their respective Wednesday matches of the UEFA Nations League.
The former are FIFA World Cup silver medalists, but in their opening Nations League encounter and their first competitive fixture since the World Cup final, they had an absolute nightmare of a game, losing 6-0 away to Spain in what was their worst ever defeat as an independent country.
While it is true that Spain was mesmerizing once they got going, but Croatia’s “performance”, if one can call it that was unprofessional, disgraceful and nowhere near worthy of that of a World Cup finalist.
They started well, pressing the Spanish defense high and forcing it to make mistakes, which unfortunately went unpunished.
The turning point in the match was at the 20-minute mark, when Inter fullback Šime Vrsaljko went off with an injury, as Marko Rog replaced him. Fifteen minutes later, the “Vatreni” were already 3-0 down. The game had really been over as a contest, after the second Spanish goal a few moments earlier.
After that the Croats only seemed in damage limitation mode, which did not work as the 6-0 score line makes clear. Now Spain has six points from two games in Group A4, while England and Croatia are pointless after one match each.
Meanwhile, Bosnia and Herzegovina already played and won its second game in Group B3. This time, it was a 1-0 home win vs. Austria courtesy of a relatively late goal by its talismanic striker Edin Džeko in a mostly boring encounter.
While there was much improvement compared to the Dragons’ lucky 2-1 win against Northern Ireland over the weekend, the team still plays too defensively for my liking under new coach Robert Prosinečki. But with two wins from two Nations League games, the coach will always be viewed as correct.
The Bosnians lead their group with six points, while Northern Ireland and Austria remain pointless ,as the games continue in October.