CROATIA’S run to the final is largely down to Luka Modric’s tireless work in midfield but their ability to switch tactics efficiently should be a warning for France.
All eyes will be on Modric and how the French attempt to put shackles on the creative midfielder, who at 32 is eyeing the biggest prize in football.
While Modric may be a worthy Footballer of the Year contender, Croatia’s quick switch in tactics during their semifinal win over England shows danger lurks around every corner against this team.
The English were completely dominant and leading 1-0 in the first half.
But after the break, a change from their favoured 4-3-3 to a 4-1-4-1 meant the game moved higher up the England half and the wings became Croatia’s main points of attack.
It was one of rightback Sime Vrsaljko’s forays forward that allowed him to cross for Ivan Perisic to level.
The winner came from the other wing, with Josip Pivaric crossing into the box for Mario Mandzukic to score and send his team into the final.
Against France, with defenders kept busy trying to contain the three strikers and the holding midfielders working to deal with Modric and Ivan Rakitic, the fullbacks could again prove key.
And with a strikeforce that includes Mandzukic, Perisic, Ante Rebic and Andrej Kramaric, Croatia can be lethal.
But they can equally turn into a hardworking defensive mechanism as they showed when Russia pressed high in their quarterfinal. — Agencies