2018 World Cup: how Croatia differs from Spain
On July 7, the Russian national football team will meet in the 2018 World Cup quarterfinals with the Croatian national team at Sochi's Fisht Stadium. Russia and Croatia defeated Spain and Denmark respectively in the penalty shootout.
The international master of sports, Soviet and Russian striker, football coach Sergei Kiryakov told about the difference between the former and future rivals of the Russian team: "The Croatians are faster then the Spaniards. Maybe less ball control due to less touch of the ball, the ball is delivered to the attack zone faster and they increase the speed. It is clear that the Mandzukic -Rakitic-Modric trio are the players that requires our attention. We must be ready for a faster football. Still, the Spaniards were rather slow, which we used quite effectively, playing defence. Due to the fact that the ball moved slowly, we were fast and had time to fill the ball area with our players. Practically, we did not leave any free space not only between the lines, but also between the line of defense and the gate. That is, we were deep, and controlled all these penetrating passes by legs or heads."
Kiriakov predicts that on July 7 we will face a faster team, which quickly start offence while controlling the ball: "Croatia quickly controls the ball in controlled attacks, quickly changes the accent of attack from left to right. Moving to the ball zone during defense requires more energy, and it should be done in a disciplined and quick manner. It's an energy-consuming task. The question is, what strategy will be chosen by the coaching staff for this match. Will we act as in the match against Spain? Or will we move one defender to the half-back line? Or, maybe, we will have two forwards? .. But it's ok to play against the Croats."
According to Sergei Kiriakov, most teams have already learned to act against individually strong players, against top stars: "Not at the expense of personal actions, but through collective interaction." That is, there always was one or two players in the zone with Cristiano Ronaldo or Lionel Messi, and the third one still had time to protects them when the ball was next to Ronaldo or Messi. If there are correct and disciplined actions in the central zone against Modric and Rakitic, we will control the central zone from Mandzukic, then we have chances. Anyway, we should play attacking football more."