Croatia’s knockout round hopes for EURO 2020 are on the ropes after a 1-1 draw with Czech Republic on Friday.
The Czech team, like Sweden earlier in the day, is raising its hand to claim dark horse status after beating Scotland to open the tournament and ahead of a group stage finale with England.
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Croatia, meanwhile, could go from World Cup finalist to group stage exit from the following EURO.
Ivan Perisic leveled the score for Croatia after Patrik Schick won and converted a penalty in the first half, taking advantage of a slip from otherwise strong Vladimir Coufal to put the game level in the 47th minute.
3 things we learned from Croatia – Czech Republic
1. Schick keeps it going: Patrik Schick spent plenty of time in the transfer rumor mill as the “next big thing” along his growth from Sparta Prague to Bohemians to Sampdoria, AS Roma, RB Leipzig, and now Bayer Leverkusen. There have been a handful of double-digit goal seasons in there, but there’s rarely been question regarding his production in a national team shirt (when healthy). Schick has two goals in three EURO 2020 games after winning and converting a penalty against Croatia to give him 14 goals and five assists in 28 caps. Not bad.
2. Big-game Ivan shows up: Ivan Perisic has had his moments in a Croatia kit — turn away, England fans — with a goal and an assist in the World Cup semifinal against England and another goal in the 4-2 final loss to France. He also scored in the playoff versus Greece to get Croatia into the tournament and was one of the stars of a short-lived EURO 2016 run. He also was one of the only players to deliver in Croatia’s three-and-done 2014 World Cup run. So to see him as the only player (so far) to get on the board at EURO 2020, with this goal to boot? Far from a surprise.
Ivan Perisic with a stunner!
GAME. ON. pic.twitter.com/nsi6cDuaQG
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) June 18, 2021
3. Croatia’s up-and-down big tourney record back down? The 1-0 loss to England wasn’t great and this one lacked luster, too, and when if you’re a USMNT fan and realize that the Croatians needed a playoff to get to the group stage of the 2018 World Cup (where they’d finish as runners-up), you might kinda give a familiar and weary wave to the closest Croatia supporter in your life. Croatia goes from hopeful of winning Group D to monitoring England – Scotland for signs of life ahead of a group finale with the Scottish team.
Man of the Match: Ivan Perisic
It would’ve been Vladimir Coufal, who was very good and all over the pitch in making six tackles while winning 7-of-8 ground duels and whipping in two key passes, but his slip on Perisic’s goal was the difference in the game. Perisic gets it.