Was it the intimidation of facing the last World Cup’s runners-up, their skill and brutality on the field or the surprise at being a goal down by half-time?
Maybe it was a combination of all these things? Either way, last night’s 4 – 1 defeat against Croatia sees Canada drop out of the contest.
Read our build up to the game here:
Canada started out strong with Alphonso Davies’ first strike and 25 minutes of exceptional play that once again showed that they deserved to be there.
But maybe Les Rouges peaked too soon and they were ultimately outclassed and outperformed by a team that didn’t just want to win, they needed to. Croatia were determined to keep their World Cup dreams alive and for that, they played hard and fierce.
The loss will humble Canada, that also goes for the team’s coach John Herdman too. With Morocco coming up this week, they still have a chance to give the world a lasting impression.
No sooner that the starting whistle blew, Canada was out to prove it deserved to be in this contest. How did it do that?
Within the first two minutes of the game, Tajon Buchanan sent a very precise lofty ball into the box and Canada’s golden boy, Alphonso Davies, was there to head it low past Livakovic.
The crowds of Canadian fans in the Khalifa International Stadium exploded in rapturous cheers as Les Rouges took the lead.
Did they peak too soon?
Unfortunately, this would be the last opportunity that Canada would get in the half to strike at Croatia’s goal. Noticing the leak in their defence, the Croats plugged the hole making it hard for Les Rouges to penetrate.
Using their 4-1-2-3 formation and tried and tested method of gaining and holding possession, they began dictating the terms of the game.
In the 36th minute of the game, the Croats managed to find their chink in Canada’s 4-4-2 structure and pushed for a goal. They succeeded. Croatia legend Ivan Perisic sent the ball into the direction of Andrej Kramaric, who fired at close range and beating Borjan.
Canada shook itself back into the game, trying to regain their composure but it was some excellent passing and skill which saw Croatia take the lead.
Josip Juranovic delivers the ball to Marko Livaja who takes the shot and beats Borjan once more. Johnston and the defending line just couldn’t check Livaja in time to stop him.
Canada did look like the better side against Belgium
Clearly a stiff talking to was had between John Herdman and his team before the Second Half but why did he not take Larin and Kone off before the half began? Unclear.
This was a half where the brass tacks truly came out. Croatia showed Canada the level of competition that the contest demanded and some harsh lessons for the future.
Modric and co continued to make chances despite Canada having the possession of the ball for longer. The game changed gear and Croatia wanted to be a World Cup winning side.
Canada did make another strike on goal with a curling effort from Jonathan Osorio. It went agonizingly close but not between the Croatian sticks.
The 70th minute arrived and the duo of Perisic and Kramaric combined forces again and to deliver a direct strike on goal, deep in the box. Score 3 – 1.
The pressure was rising as the game entered its final stages. Canada looked like it was losing its shape and small mistakes were being capitalised on by the Croats.
A catastrophic error from Kamal Millar in stoppage time gave Lovro Majer the chance to make it 4 at close range. He did.
Canada playing in a group with some of Europe’s best teams was always going to be challenge, especially to get out of the Groups in the first place.
Not only that… it also gives Canada’s manager a chance to reflect on his comments that they would £$% Croatia.
Double scorer Andrej Kramaric had responded to Herdman’s words saying that, ‘These are words (Canada coach saying we will ‘F Croatia’) that have motivated the whole of Croatia. I want to thank the coach of Canada for the motivation. He could have chosen better words. He could have formulated it a bit differently. In the end, Croatia demonstrated who f***ed whom.’
Canada next play Morocco on Thursday. A surprise 2 – 0 victory over Belgium now makes this game more of a challenge for Les Rouges.