Football Features

Netherlands 2-4 Croatia: Player ratings as Modric dominates match to reach Nations League final

By Ben Green

Published: 22:35, 14 June 2023

Croatia have booked their place in the 2022/23 Nations League final after beating the Netherlands 4-2 in the penultimate round.

Zlatko Dalic’s men were embroiled in a frantic affair in Rotterdam, but ultimately came through after battling from behind.

Goals from Andrej Kramaric, Mario Pasalic, Bruno Petkovic and Luka Modrid cancelled out Donyell Malen and Noa Lang’s strike to secure a place in this weekend’s showpiece against either Spain or Italy.

Here is how the players rated after extra time at De Kuip:

The Netherlands

Justin Bijlow – 5 – Unlucky for all four of Croatia’s goals, but still conceded four. He stood little chance from 12 yards, while Pasalic and Petkovic’s strikes were well placed.

Denzel Dumfries – 6 – Defensively formidable in his individual battle with Perisic and Ivanusec during that first half, but he provided the latter too much respect for Croatia’s second and dipped off as the game went on.

Lutsharel Geertruida – 5 – Looked formidable in that first half as he intercepted with aggression and intelligence, but his influence heavily waned after the restart and towards extra time.

Virgil van Dijk – 5 – Sprayed passes with supreme precision, but questions have to asked of Croatia’s second goal as he allowed Pasalic to cut across him, while he didn’t exactly cover himself in glory as Croatia smashed four past his defence.

Nathan Ake – 7 – The Man City Treble winner was involved in the build-up to his nation’s deadlock-breaker, and produced a last-ditch challenge in extra time to prevent Petkovic running through one-on-one. How he still had the energy is anyone’s guess. Unbelievable stamina.

Frenkie de Jong – 5 – Some neat touches and build-up play, but not decisive or penetrative enough to really give the Netherlands an edge. He moved into defence in extra time and had an absolute howler, nearly scoring an own goal and getting easily turned by Bruno Petkovic for the Croat’s winner.

Mats Wieffer – 7 – An imposing display in that first half with some exceptional break-up play and midfield anchorage. He also wasn’t afraid to press forward and exploit the half space, a notion summed up by his assist for Malen’s opener.

Teun Koopmeiners – 5 – Certainly got stuck in and looked to form a cohesive unit with his midfield team-mates, but Modric was the dominant force in the middle third, and Koopmeiners simply couldn’t cope.

Donyell Malen – 6 – Took his goal exceptionally well with a low, bobbling drive and showed moments of creative quality, though ultimately not enough to keep the Dutch persistently on the front foot.

Xavi Simons – 5 – Showed flashes of quality and was heavily involved in the intricate build-up to Malen’s opener, but he wasn’t quite consistent enough to really get at Juranovic and give him food for thought.

Cody Gakpo – 5 – Had some nice moments and touches, but he really wasn’t influential enough to grab the game by the scruff of the net — and let’s not talk about the penalty he conceded: a careless tug on Modric’s shirt.

Substitutes:

Wout Weghorst (for Simons 63′) – 5 – Largely anonymous and not influential.

Georginio Wijnaldum (for Wieffer 75′) – 5 – Some very nice touches and skill coupled with a lot of overplaying and wayward passes.

Steven Bergwijn (for Malen 75′) – 5 – Drove with determination, but not really consistently enough.

Noa Lang (for Dumfries 85′) – 7 – A key sub for Koeman as he got the Netherlands back into the game.

Tyrell Malacia (for Ake 105′) – 4 – Shocking foul to concede a penalty and allow Croatia to kill the game off.

Marten de Roon (for Gakpo 105′) – N/A – Didn’t really have enough time to exert his authority.

Croatia

Dominik Livakovic – 7 – Looked firm and commanding between the sticks when the Netherlands asked questions, particularly as the game went on and Croatia looked to hold.

Josip Juranovic – 7 – Tenacious and powerful going forward, the Union Berlin right-back was persistently willing to charge forward and certainly didn’t shy away from getting stuck into Simons.

Josip Sutalo – 6 – Very solid game, the in-demand defender battled well against Gakpo and then held his nerve when the towering Weghorst entered the field.

Domagoj Vida – 6 – A typical Vida performance, the veteran centre-back was no-nonsense and aggressive throughout the showdown, forming a strong partnership with Sutalo.

Ivan Perisic – 7 – Chaotic and wild in the first half, with some very suspect crossing. But, he came alive after the restart to offer some real verve and zip for Croatia down the flank.

Marcelo Brozovic – 7 – Put his body on the line and strung passes in a neat fashion. The Inter midfielder didn’t pull up any trees, but he manned a formidable engine room for Croatia, particularly in that second half.

Luka Modric – 9 – Is this man ever going to regress? Modric has made an absolute mockery out of Father Time with his age-defying midfield exploits. Even at the end of a gruelling campaign, the soon-to-be 38-year-old was darting about De Kuip like an energetic pup, controlling the tempo and spraying passes with the precision of a knife-wielding surgeon. He deceptively outfoxed Gakpo to draw a penalty and converted his own with a coup de grace.

Mateo Kovacic – 7 – The midfield mezzala did not stop running and linking play with Modric and Brozovic. Often collecting the ball from deep, Kovacic was a picture of calm when the Dutch initiated their press, protecting the ball as though it were a Faberge egg.

Mario Pasalic – 7 – Energetic, aggressive and ultimately potent. The attacking midfielder played with an insatiable tempo and drive that kept Croatia ticking over. His crowning moment came in the second half when he found ample room in the Dutch box to poke home.

Luka Ivanusec – 7 – Quiet for much of the game, but credit where credit is due as he set up Pasalic with a delightful cross. With the box packed out with navy shirts, it required a pin-point delivery to find a team-mate — and that is exactly what Ivanusec provided.

Andrej Kramaric – 7 – Solid link-up and back-to-goal play, the former Leicester man was strong and confident in the presence of Van Dijk. Spare a moment for his penalty. He was a coolness personified as he dinked it past Bijlow from 12 yards.

Substitutes:

Nikola Vlasic (for Ivanusec 80′) – 6 – Cool and controlled, the West Ham midfielder brought a composure when he came on.

Josip Stanisic (for Juranovic 80′) – 6 – Strong and formidable to replicate his predecessor’s exploits.

Lovro Majer (for Kovacic 85′) – 6 – Darted about and got stuck in, which is exactly what his manager wanted.

Martin Erlic (for Sutalo 90′) – 6 – Another who came on to do the job of his predecessor — and did exactly that.

Bruno Petkovic (for Kramaric 91′) – 8 – A game-changing substitute, who won his side the game with that thumping strike from range.

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