Even as France won their second FIFA World Cup title yesterday, with a 4-2 victory over Croatia in the summit clash, Croatia won many a hearts for their skills, strength and overall excellence in the game – not just in the final, but all through the tournament. So state the numbers, which will now be a part of global football history as the FIFA World Cup 2018 statistics.
Croatia have put up their best performance in the FIFA World Cup, catching the imagination of die-hard football fans, pundits and critics alike. Croatia’s previous best show at a FIFA World Cup was at the France 1998 when they had defeated the strong Netherlands 2-1 to bag the third position honours. They had lost to the host in the semi-finals who eventually won the title.
The rivalries between the two, together nicknamed Le derby tricolore (“Tricolor Derby”), came back this time with a hint of vigour, vengeance and resurgence at the Moscow’s glittering Luzhniki stadium.
When it comes to statistics and numbers it can’t be wrong to say that Croatians have put their best foot forward and unfolded the best action for the football fans in the most coveted sporting spectacle. The jaw-dropping yet bewildering numbers and stats revealed below after the yesterday’s finals will not lie as they reveal how a minnow nation of 4,154,200 manage to enter the hall of fame among the top global football powerhouses.
The most ferocious predators
According to the stats revealed by FIFA, Croatia has been adjudged the best attacking side after the World Cup saw 352 predatory and ferocious attacks from their side. England, who were considered to be among the top favourites to reach finals, had succumbed to Croatia’s uproar, shocking them with a 2-1 defeat and putting an end to all the wildest English dream – “It’s coming home”.
Known for holding their fort
The Vatreni boys gave a hard time to their opponents who faced a tough task breaking the line of defence of the Croatian team. As a matter of fact, the teams – right from Denmark in Round of 16, Russia in the quarter-final and England in the semi-finals – all found it really hard to hit the back of the net on Croatians’ side. Luka Modric-led squad have also gained a distinction for best defending this world cup finals with a total of 301 heart-stopping moments in clearances, tackles and saves.
Ivan Perišić – Epitome of grit and endurance
For the Inter Milan winger, scoring three goals was not enough. Even though a paltry achievement, Ivan Perisic has added another feather to his cap. According to the FIFA stats, the 29-year old has covered 72 kilometres – most distance covered on the pitch among all other players who have participated in the World Cup 2018 in Russia.
The Golden Boy – Luka Modric
Luka Modric has led Croatia’s campaign from the front. He missed a penalty against Denmark at the round-of-16 but came back and converted from the spot during the penalty shootout as Croatia advanced to the last eight. Modric showed nerves of steel and orchestrated the whole game from the midfield as Zlatko Dalic’s men bettered their ‘golden generation’, who reached the semi-finals in 1998 and lost to France.
The 32-year old Real Madrid star Modric’s heroics have made him the first Croatian player in World Cup history to win the Golden Ball for best player at the tournament.
12 goals scored
Croatian National football team are the second highest goal scorers of the tournament (12) just behind third-placed Belgium with 16 goals. Ivan Perišić and Mario Mandžukić have scored three each, including one each in the finals yesterday. Skipper Modric has scored two, whereas Milan Badelj, Andrej Kramarić, Ivan Rakitić, Ante Rebić and Domagoj Vida have scored one goal each.
Dominance in the final
But for the goals scored and shots on the target, Croatia has recorded better numbers that France in the final on Sunday. In total Croatia had 14 shots to France’s 7, had a 66%-34% ball possession, 83%-68% passing accuracy, 529-285 passes, 28-5 total crosses, 69-61 ball recoveries and 6-2 corners in their favour.
The stats prove the Croatian forward and defence lines have been better than any other team during their seven outings in the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia. They return without trophy, but loads of pride and glimpses of a power to reckon with times to come.