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UEFA Nations League

Croatia's route to the UEFA Nations League 2023 final

Published at :June 18, 2023 at 10:24 PM
Modified at :June 18, 2023 at 10:24 PM
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Sayantan Chakraborty


Luka Modric and his team have a chance to win their first major silverware

Croatia booked their place in the UEFA Nations League 2023 final after a dramatic 4-2 win over the Netherlands. They will now face Spain and hope to earn their first major silverware. Their recent international success hasn't gone unnoticed and have propelled them to 7th in the world ranking. Here's how the World Cup semi-finalist in Qatar reached the final of the third edition of the UEFA Nations League in 2023.

Group Stage

Table-toppers - 13 points (4W, 1D, 1L)

Match 1: Croatia 0-3 Austria

Croatia's qualification process began with the only loss at the hands of Austria, who got their only win in the group stage at home on June 3, 2022. Ralf Rangnick was the newly appointed manager of Austria, and he set up his team to counter-attack against a possession-based side. Marko Arnautovic scored the opener in the 41st minute. Two more goals immediately after the second half by Gregoritsch and captain Sabitzer sealed the deal for Croatia's only defeat in the group stage.

Match 2: Croatia 1-1 France

A few days later, Croatia faced defending World Champions France, who, like their hosts, had begun the group stage matches with a loss to Denmark. Both sides went with a conservative lineup, with many first-choice players out, and played out a 1-1 draw. Rabiot got the opener for France in the 52nd minute, and it looked like Les Blues were heading for a win. However, a very late Andej Kramaric penalty got Croatia on board with a result and a point.

Match 3: Denmark 0 - 1 Croatia

Within a week of their away loss to Austria, Croatia travelled to Copenhagen to take on Denmark, who had started off with a win against France. However, that's exactly when Croatia turn up and play their best game when everyone rules them out. A solitary goal came in the 69th minute through Mario Pasalic, whose role as an attacking midfielder paid off for the manager. They didn't allow a single big chance to the home side while scoring off their only one and getting their first win.

Match 4: France 0 - 1 Croatia

If the previous tie was an upset, Croatia had another one up their sleeve. With their third away fixture in the four matches. They pulled off a bigger upset, beating France at the Stade de France in Paris on June 14th. This ensured they took four points of the possible six from group favourites France within a span of a week. A very early penalty in the 5th minute by Luka Modric was the decider in the match as Croatia notched their second win of the group stage.

Match 5: Croatia 2 - 1 Denmark

Croatia made it three wins on the trot with a home win against Denmark and were now comfortably on top of the group. The match took place during the international break prior to the World Cup on September 23rd. All three goals in the match were scored in the second half, with Sosa and Majer on the scoreboard for Croatia and Eriksen for Denmark.

Match 6: Austria 1 - 3 Croatia

The sixth and final qualifying game of the group stage was the reverse fixture of the loss at home to Austria. They avenged their only loss this time and came away victorious with goals from Modric, Livaja, and Lovren. This win completed their qualification journey, as they qualified for the semi-final of the tournament against the Netherlands on June 15th.

Semifinal

Netherlands 2 - 4 Croatia

After a successful campaign in the group stage, Luka Modric and his men faced the hosts, the Netherlands, on June 15th. However, not much had changed since their last international action at the World Cup semi-final in Doha. Luka Modric was at his best and put in a man-of-the-match performance with a goal and assist to help clinch a place in the final in overtime with a 2-4 win in Rotterdam. Croatia have now reached their second major final in recent years and have another chance to win silverware.

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