24 hours ahead of Croatia’s 2nd match in the Qatar 2022 World Cup, the mood in the country could be described as ‘cautiously optimistic’.

Croatia opened their World Cup campaign with a 0-0 draw with Morocco which only amplified the main concern fans had about Croatia entering the World Cup – the lack of a true goalscorer.

While Croatia controlled the tempo and midfield which has become their trademark since entering the world stage, it never transferred into chances on goal.

The media criticized their attacking Morocco on the wings with not enough penetration in the middle which could have offered them more goalscoring opportunities.

The upcoming match with Canada should see a shift to a more direct attack on the Canadian goal.

Canadian Coach Herdman Controversial Statement

Right after Canada’s 1-0 loss to Belgium, Canadian head coach John Herdman in his post-match comments stated that “I told them (players) they belong here. And we’re going to go and f*ck Croatia. That’s as simple as it gets.” 

The statement, of course, was picked up by Croatian media and one newspaper – ‘24 Sata’ – created a quite funny headline that asked: “You have a big tongue but do you have the balls?”

Asked about comment by Hardman, Croatian coach simply said: “The Croatian National Team deserves respect from everyone because we have earned it since our existence.

We won 2 medals in 20 years which only a few have matched. How we show respect to others, so we deserve the same.” Far from fighting words but I have a feeling coach Herdman’s words will be used as motivation in the Croatian dressing room prior to the match.

Croatian Fans Always Optimistic

You can’t blame Croatians for being an optimistic bunch. What this country has achieved in the sporting world in only 31 years of existence is quite remarkable. There was no panic after the scoreless draw with Morocco.

Even their concern about the lack of goals isn’t translating into “will anyone be able to score goals?” but rather “who will step up to score the goals we need?” As long as the little magician called Modric is present, they “know” the results will follow.

A win over Canada would be treated as a forgone conclusion. A draw will be met with “no problem, we’ll beat Belgium by as many goals as we need”.

But a loss to Canada may send the nation into shock. Coach Dalic will inevitably be the first target of criticism and his dismissal a forgone conclusion.

The casual fans are quick to point to losses by Argentina & Germany as how nothing is 100% predictable at this World Cup but at the same time, they see that coach Dalic and the players are well aware of this fact and that they will show Canada all the respect that coach Herdman in a moment of emotion forgot to reciprocate.

Photo credit: IMAGO / Pixsell

Guide to World Cup 2022

Here are some resources to help you get the most out of the biggest event in soccer!
TV Schedule: All the info on where and when to watch every game
The Groups: We breakdown each group and all the teams
The Kits: Check out what every team will be wearing on the field this fall
Predictor: Play out every scenario with our World Cup Predictor
World Cup Bracket: Map out the entire tournament, from the groups to the final