Croatia attain World Cup final 16, ship Belgium’s golden technology dwelling

DOHA, Qatar — Belgium needed to win to make it to the final 16, and with the qualification on the road, Roberto Martinez, the Belgium head coach, made some huge calls in his beginning lineup. He dropped the captain Eden Hazard and selected to not begin Romelu Lukaku.

For Croatia, a draw was sufficient so it was about managing the sport in one of the simplest ways. They thought that they had a penalty earlier than VAR intervened for an offside and solely conceded one probability to their opponents within the first half.

Martinez despatched Lukaku on at half-time with the mission to vary the sport and qualify his workforce. He may and will have finished it with two huge possibilities missed. This was not Lukaku’s World Cup or Belgium’s.

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Speedy response

1. What’s subsequent for the Golden Era?

This was imagined to be their Final Dance! This World Cup in Doha was the final time they might all get collectively after ten years as a bunch in huge competitions and attempt to lastly win a trophy. Issues turned bitter although. This has been a dreadful match on and off the pitch. Belgium have confirmed a horrible picture of themselves with poor performances, collectively and individually, tensions, controversy and adverse headlines.

The way forward for Roberto Martinez, who’s out of contract, appears distant from Brussels. Jan Vertonghen and Dries Mertens are 35 and this would be the finish of them and possibly additionally for 33 12 months olds Toby Alderweireld and Axel Witsel.

Eden Hazard, the captain, has gone by way of this World Cup like a ghost and even when he’s solely 31, he might need a protracted take into consideration his worldwide future. It’s a unhappy ending of what has been a beautiful story for a few years however it’s now time to begin rebuilding. The method ought to have began some time in the past however Martinez stayed too loyal to his Golden Era. And so they all paid for it on this match.

2. Daring calls do not repay for Martinez

Did he suppose that he needed to change one thing to create an electroshock and wake his gamers up? Was he too adventurous in his workforce choice? However, Roberto Martinez obtained it unsuitable. His choices did not repay and Belgium are out of the World Cup within the group stage which is embarrassing.

The choice to begin Leandro Trossard as a false 9 did not have the anticipated results. He was cellular however did not weigh sufficient on the Croatia defence. Martinez’s concept was to play a 3-4-2-1 with the ball with Yannick Carrasco staying broad on the left and Thomas Meunier on the proper after which Kevin De Bruyne and Dries Mertens had been answerable for the creativity half. Aside from an important ball from KDB that was wasted by Mertens, the entrance three by no means labored.

With out the ball, the formation grew to become a 4-4-2 which was unbalanced as De Bruyne did not defend on the proper. As soon as once more, like within the earlier two video games, the Belgian head coach modified one thing at half time. Lukaku got here on and obtained an opportunity to attain earlier than hitting the submit on the hour mark. He clearly modified the sport and gave extra of a menace to Belgium than ever on this World Cup up to now. De Bruyne additionally grew into the sport and created many possibilities.

Nevertheless, it was not sufficient. Martinez was simply not impressed on Thursday, like all all through this match, and this humiliating elimination so early is vastly on him.

3. Croatia in management regardless of remaining scare

If there’s a workforce on this World Cup who is aware of tips on how to handle a recreation, it’s Croatia. A draw was sufficient for them to qualify for the final 16 and even when they created some first rate alternatives, they had been clearly very comfortable to manage the 0-0 and get the purpose they wanted. They suffered just a little bit firstly of the second half when Lukaku got here on and hit the submit, and particularly within the dying minutes when he ought to have scored.

Nevertheless, their fantastic midfield three of Luka Modric, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic are the masters of controlling video games. It was good on when to press, tips on how to press, when to sluggish the tempo of the sport, when to speed up it. They wished time when wanted, obtained a foul on the proper time and took some time to take the free kicks. Contemplating that this workforce lacks a prime striker (Kramaric, Petkovic or Livaja are usually not in that class), this was most likely the very best they might do.


Participant scores (1 = worst, 10 = finest)

Croatia: Dominik Livakovic 4, Josip Juranovic 5, Dejan Lovren 5, Josko Gvardiol 6, Borna Sosa 6, Luka Modric 7, Marcelo Brozovic 7, Mateo Kovacic 6, Andrej Kramaric 4, Marko Livaja 3, Ivan Perisic 5

Subs: Bruno Petkovic 4, Mario Pasalic 4, Lovro Majer 4

Belgium: Thibaut Courtois 7, Thomas Meunier 4, Toby Alderweireld 6, Jan Vertonghen 6, Timothy Castagne 5, Leander Dendoncker 4, Axel Witsel 3, Yannick Carrasco 4, Kevin De Bruyne 6, Dries Mertens 3, Leandro Trossard 3,

Subs: Eden Hazard 4, Jeremy Doku 5, Thorgan Hazard 4, Romelu Lukaku 3, Youri Tielemans 4,


Finest and worst performers

BEST: Marcelo Brozovic, Croatia

It may have been Luka Modric however Brozovic bossed the midfield. He was excellent along with his recreation administration, had 98 touches, shot saved by Courtois and made eight passes into the ultimate third. His soccer IQ is so excessive that he’s an absolute pleasure to observe in a recreation like this.

WORST: Leandro Trossard, Belgium

He wished to begin and felt that he deserved to begin. He had his probability at present and confirmed completely nothing. He did not create something, did not pose a menace, did not impression the sport in any respect. He was really easy to defend towards and was so poor that Martinez took him off simply earlier than the hour.


Highlights and notable moments

Thierry Henry consoles a heartbroken Romelu Lukaku after the sport.


After the match: What the gamers and managers mentioned

Quotes to return…


Key stats (supplied by ESPN Stats & Data)

– Romelu Lukaku (BEL): Anticipated targets (xG) of 1.67 towards Croatia at present; the best variety of any participant on the 2022 World Cup


Up subsequent

Croatia: Because the second-place finisher from Group F, Croatia will play the first-place finisher from Group E.

Belgium: With the loss, the Belgians are out of the 2022 FIFA World Cup.