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Thanks to penalties and dust: Croatia celebrates a successful dress rehearsal

Thanks to penalties and dust: Croatia celebrates a successful dress rehearsal

Croatia mastered a tough test against Portugal a week before their opening match of the European Championship. Modric laid the foundation for a 2-1 win.

Teammates congratulate Luka Modric (#10) on his opening goal.

In the group stage of the European Championship, Croatia will once again face Italy and Spain – two heavyweights in European football. Accordingly, Vatrini's team had a test against an opponent of the same category a week before the opening match: they were visiting Portugal.

Compared to the previous Test matches – Portugal won against Finland (4:2) on Tuesday and Croatia against North Macedonia (3:0) on Monday – both coaches changed seven times. Among other things, Roberto Martinez completely changed his attacking line without involving Cristiano Ronaldo (the striker had only arrived on Friday and was supposed to sit on the bench for the entire 90 minutes): Bernardo Silva, Goncalo Ramos and Joao Felix started instead of Francisco. Conceição, Diogo Jota, Rafael Leao.

Modric and Mader miss a double blow

On the other hand, Zlatko Dalic relied on the experienced midfield trio of Kovacic, Brozovic and Modric, among others. Two of them took the lead early on: Kovacic remained alert in the opposition penalty area, knocking the ball away from Vitinha's feet and then clearing it. Modric successfully executed the penalty kick (eighth).

The visitors almost scored two goals: Modric shot over the crossbar (11) and Diogo Costa blocked Madjer (13). However, there was not much to be seen of the Portuguese in attack. Although they had a slightly larger share of the game, they mostly lacked penetration.

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Since the Seleção did not look particularly strong in defence, the most dangerous actions in the first half occurred in front of Diogo Costa's goal. But Gvardiol (21, 35), Kramaric and Budimir (both 42) gave up a 2-0 lead in the first half.

Jokers add liveliness to the Portugal match

In the second half, Martinez fielded a new quartet that included Joao Cancelo, Diogo Jota, Rafael Leao and Nelson Semedo. This must be paid for immediately. The combined production of Nelson Semedo and Diogo Jota ensured a great start for Portugal after the restart (48'). On the other hand, Dalic also showed the right touch. Two minutes after his substitution, Pasalic played a key role in taking the lead again: Budimir scored after hitting the crossbar (56).

However, the Seleção was unimpressed and acted more aggressive after the start of the second half than in the first 45 minutes. In a period of pressure that occurred 25 minutes from time, the equalizer was in the air. Within four minutes, Bruno Fernandes (65), Vitinha, Bernardo Silva (both 68) and Ruben Dias (69) missed the goal 2-2.

Ruben Dias misses the equalizer in the last minute

After a header chance from the centre-back, the game became a bit flat again. However, both camps of fans were once again screaming for the goal to be achieved in the final stage. But since Diogo Costa was there against Sučić (82') and Vlasic (90'+3) and Ruben Dias shot into the arms of Livakovic (90'+2), from the Croat's point of view the score remained 2-1.

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Vatreni's squad celebrated a successful training session for their opening European Championship match against Spain next Saturday (6pm). Before Portugal's big event begins, the Iberians will be tested against Ireland on Tuesday (8.45pm).