Croatia took on Slovakia away from home on Friday evening in UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying. Despite missing several key players, particularly in midfield, the runners-up of FIFA World Cup 2018 put on quite a show, deservedly winning the match 4-0.
In truth, the result could have ended up even more one-sided, had Zlatko Dalić’s men taken more of their chances, especially early on in the first half.
Ultimately, Nikola Vlašić, Ivan Perišić, Bruno Petković and Dejan Lovren scored the goals for the victory. It must be something of a coach’s dream come true, to beat a strong competitor for qualification 4-0 away from home with four different scorers.
In fact, Dalić said after the game that it was one of the most impressive victories since he had taken over as Croatia boss.
That is a big statement, given that he took charge at the end of last the World Cup qualifying campaign, after which the team had wins over the likes of Argentina and England on their way to the final.
Still, there remains much work to be done for the Vatreni, if they are to qualify for next summer’s special edition of the continental tournament, which is set to take place throughout Europe.
Currently they are in second place of their group, even on points with leaders Hungary, with Wales and Slovakia each just three points of the pace and only Azerbaijan nine points behind.
Croatia will face the Azerbaijanis on Monday, where they will again need their full focus in order to prevail. That game will be so difficult, precisely because it should be so easy.
The Croats know from their own rather short history as an independent nation that nothing can be taken for granted in international soccer. Whenever they did, they have failed spectacularly. They cannot allow for that to repeat!