Update Post: November 28, 2023 11:57 pm
Croatia played with Armenia and is still going to the Euro Cup! But Wales… not yet.
Georgy Ilyushchenko November 22, 2023, 01:00 Moscow time Audio version: Your browser does not support the audio element.
Modric and his partners had to work hard with the Armenians.
Croatia and Wales competed in absentia for the last ticket to Euro 2024 in the qualifying phase. The Balkans were in a privileged position: they had to beat Armenia at home or wait for their rival to fail in a match against an unmotivated but strong Turkey. As it turns out, the first condition worked. Although not without nerves.
The Armenians made it easier for the Croatians with the absence of two important players: Astana central defender and national team captain Varazdat Aroyan was disqualified, and Rubin defensive midfielder Ugochukwu Iwu suffered a minor injury during the match against Wales (1-1). In Aroyan’s absence, by the way, the diadem was tried on by the leader of Krasnodar, Eduard Spertsyan.
However, Croatia was also not without important losses: Manchester City central midfielder Mateo Kovacic, injured, and Tottenham left winger Ivan Perisic. Also absent was Dinamo Zagreb forward Bruno Petkovic, who scored a double and an assist against Latvia.
If Kovacic and Perisic had entered the field, the Balkans would probably have been more active: in the 43rd minute they had played only 0.29 of the expected goals. Did they really expect so much from the Turks?
But Armenia almost took advantage of the opponent’s passivity and created a crucial moment in the 29th minute: Hovhannes Harutyunyan from his half of the field gave an excellent cutting pass to Kamo Hovhannisyan, who fell face to face with Dominic Livakovic. The right back almost opened the scoring with an elegant shot: the goalkeeper deflected the ball into a corner.
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And yet, attentive readers probably realized that we indicated the 43rd minute of the Croatian match for a reason. It was then that Borna Sosa received a pass from Luka Modric and crossed from the left wing into the area for Ante Budimir, who accurately headed the ball into the near corner. This goal was only the 32-year-old Osasuna forward’s second with the national team and his first in an official match. How punctually he woke up!
Curiously, the Croatians tried to score in this way throughout the entire half. It seemed, well, why are they carrying Budimir in vain? What is the point of this? Isn’t it easier, having technicians like Modric and Lovro Meyer in the lineup, to crush the opponent from below? Well, Ante clarified all the doubts.
Budimir celebrates a goal against the Armenian national team
Photo: Jurij Kodrun/Getty Images
The second half also passed with almost no chances. One of the brightest episodes was created by Lokomotiv’s left-back Nair Tiknizyan: he did not allow Budimir himself to score the second into an empty goal, wonderfully kicking the ball over his head.
Frame from the broadcast of the Croatia – Armenia match
Photo: Transmission frame
Croatia almost scored again later: Andre Kalisir intercepted Modric’s pass to Budimir and almost converted it into his own goal, but Ognjen Cancerevich kept the intrigue alive until the end of the match. However, Armenia did not respond at all. And yet, if Oganesyan had seized the iron chance midway through the first half, the match could have ended with any result.
Croatia is going to Euro 2024. In addition, Wales did not beat Turkey (1-1), so Modric’s team did not have to try too hard in the confrontation with the Armenians. The Welsh, like other losers of the qualifying phase, will fight for one of the three places in the Nations League from March 21 to 26, 2024.
This is the Russian team:
The Russian team trampled Cuba – 8:0! But one goal was not enough to repeat the record