Croatia – France: the notes of the match

The French team conceded a draw in Croatia (1-1), this Monday, for the second day of the 2022-2023 Nations League. Mike Maignan, very solid, has avoided a new defeat to the French team in the space of three days.

Duel of losers in this second day of the group 1 of the Nations League. Beaten 3-0 at home by Austria, Luka Modric’s Croatia wanted to redeem themselves against a French team surprised at the Stade de France by Denmark (1-2). To redeem themselves, Les Bleus lined up a team logically reshuffled (ten changes, only the Monegasque Aurélien Tchouameni was renewed) because of the busy schedule (4 matches in 10 days). Back in the France group, Didier Deschamps chose to put aside the 3-5-2 to return to a four-man defense, a first since the match in Ukraine in September 2021. A system well known to the Tricolores even if the Kimpembe-Saliba hinge was new.

DD’s men quickly showed a lot of technical mastery, confiscating the ball from their opponents. However, they did not create any clear chances. Worse, the recurrent problems of alignment of the French defense could have been very expensive on two occasions. Without the clinical interventions of William Saliba and Presnel Kimpembe against Ante Budimir (13th, 18th), the hosts could have taken the lead. This confirmed the trend: the French rearguard is no longer the most reliable in the world. The rest of the first half was more chaotic, due in particular to numerous physical clashes. In the 22nd minute, Croatia should have been reduced to ten men after Domagoj Vida’s uncontrolled tackle from behind on Christopher Nkunku. Faced with the compact Croatian block, Les Bleus struggled to create chances. And unsurprisingly, it was the midfielders who had the most contact with the ball, especially Aurelien Tchouameni who was still at his best.

Maignan avoids the worst

Two flashes of brilliance could have put the French on the right track, but Nkunku’s goal was logically disallowed for offside (31st) and Dominik Livakovic kept a close eye on Moussa Diaby (39th). 0-0 at the break, the show was not really there. At the end of the second half, the game changed very little. But this time, the efficiency chose its camp. After a chance to head in Budimir (49th), Adrien Rabiot had more success. The Juventus player was perfectly placed in the middle of the field by Wissam Ben Yedder, and he put his opponent down before curling an unstoppable left-footed shot past the Croatian keeper (1-0, 52nd). Ten minutes later, another small event took place: the entry of Boubacar Kamara in place of Tchouameni and thus the first international cap for the former OM player.

Slightly dominating, Les Bleus will then live an end of game to bite their fingers. After a nice save from Mike Maignan on a Luka Modric shot (71st), Deschamps’ men could have killed the game by Antoine Griezmann, perfectly shifted by Nkunku. Unfortunately, the Colchonero missed his duel with Livakovic (76th). Les Bleus paid dearly for it. Three minutes later, Maignan was again at his best against Orsic (79th). A relief of very short duration because in the wake, Jonathan Clauss, who had just entered the game, caused a penalty on Kramaric (80th). After a few minutes of video checking, Kramaric did himself justice (1-1, 83rd). After a few minutes of video checking, Kramaric took the penalty himself (1-1, 83e) and Croatia will offer us a crazy end of the game. Orsic again forced Maignan to play the saver (87th) before Juranovic frightened the whole stadium by missing his back pass for his goalkeeper. Fortunately for him, Griezmann did not take advantage of this (88th). In the end, there was no winner. France is at the 3rd place, Croatia is last of the group.

Man of the match

Maignan (7) : the AC Milan goalkeeper has replaced Hugo Lloris in the goal of the French team in Croatia. If he did not have the opportunity to shine for a long time in this second match of the Nations League 2023 against the 16th selection in the FIFA ranking, he finally allowed the French to leave with a point thanks to his multiple saves at the end of the match (71st, 86th, 90th+2).


Livakovic (6) : very little used at the beginning of the match, he could have lost the first French opportunity, but Nkunku, who had deceived him with a superb dive was flagged offside (31st). The Croatian goalkeeper then made a first very good save on an attempt from a tight angle by Diaby (38th), then a few moments later another good intervention on a floating shot by Tchouameni (40th). He finally lost the game in the second half, failing to win his one-on-one with Adrien Rabiot (52nd, 0-1). The Dynamo Zagreb goalkeeper then kept his team in the game by making a double save from Griezmann (76th).

Juranovic (4) : he made a good start of the game by being strong in the duels and very attentive on the few second balls he had to play in his zone. At the beginning of the second half, he was caught by Rabiot, who was able to open the score (52nd, 0-1), and he could also have offered a second goal to the French team at the end of the game on a missed pass, but Griezmann missed the opportunity to score (88th).

Erlic (5,5) : he came back well in his game by making good defensive interventions, especially with his head on the numerous French crosses. The Croatian defender used his power to get the upper hand on his opponents in duels throughout the match.

Vida (4.5): The 33-year-old defender used his experience to make some good interceptions and keep the danger away from the first French attempts. The Croatian could have been sent off for a very nasty tackle from behind on Nkunku, but he was simply cautioned (20th). He was a little more in trouble in the second half, losing several balls that put his team in danger.

Barisic (3,5) : in difficulty on his left side, the Croatian fullback was not able to contain the numerous runs of the very active Moussa Diaby, who often took him by surprise. In the second half, he was a bit more active, especially in the offensive part of the game, taking several times his lane to go to the other side and cross. However, his crosses were a bit sloppy.

Modric (6,5) : very clean on his first shots, the Madrid midfielder created good shifts and was able to make differences in the midfield thanks to his technical quality, his vista but also his passing quality. Higher up the pitch in the second half, he could have scored but his attempt from outside the box was pushed away by Maignan (70th). Replaced in the 78th minute by Sucic. The newcomer could have immediately made his mark but his attempt was stopped by Maignan (79th).

Brozovic (7): immediately present in the duels, he quickly took control of the midfield with his teammate, Luka Modric. The Croatian midfielder didn’t hesitate to go down low to build his team’s game and win the ball back. The Interist was involved in big duels with the French midfielders and often managed to get the upper hand thanks to his great technical quality.

Kovacic (6,5) : from the beginning of the match, he put a lot of pressure on the French midfielders by collecting high balls. The Chelsea midfielder set the pace for his team’s pressing and when he got the ball back, he used his technique to launch quick attacks. He had a great game and was replaced by Vlasic in the 78th minute. The West Ham midfielder could have scored at the end of the game but his attempt was well repelled by a vigilant Mike Maignan (87th).

Majer (5) : the Croatian winger made a big pressure on the French defenders, allowing him to recover some good balls. He often tried to project himself forward to cross the ball. On the few phases of Croatian possession he did not hesitate to reposition himself to participate in the construction of his team’s attacks. Replaced in the 61st minute by Pasalic. The Atalanta midfielder made a serious entrance on the right side, using his technical quality to make differences and get out of complicated situations.

Budimir (5,5): very active at the beginning of the game, he often took the depth which allowed to bring danger and create spaces. The Croatian striker put a lot of pressure on the French defenders and made differences thanks to his power and his back to goal game. He missed the first big chance of the match by losing his duel with Maignan (18th). Often well placed, he touched some good balls in the area, especially with his head, but he failed to adjust the target. Replaced in the 68th minute by Kramaric. It was the Hoffenheim striker who won the Croatian penalty after being fouled by Clauss and it was also him who took justice by catching Maignan off guard (82nd, 1-1).

Brekalo (4,5) : he made a lot of offensive runs to bring the danger with crosses, but without having much success. The Torino player also did a lot of defensive work to support his defense against the French attacks. Replaced in the 61st minute by Orsic, who made a big pressing on his direct opponents and tried to bring the danger by multiple offensive runs.


Maignan (7) : see above.

Pavard (3,5) : defensively in place (2 clearances, 1 interception, 1 tackle) but invisible offensively (only 1 cross on the counter), the versatile Bayern Munich player delivered a performance bordering on the correct, before being guilty of a double misalignment leading to the Croatian equalization tarnishing his final copy.

Saliba (6): The Arsenal player’s game in Split showed great promise. Very authoritative in the duels, he made some great returns, even when he was guilty at the origin. On the other hand, the Bondynois had some avoidable losses of the ball, but there is reason to be optimistic for the future.

Kimpembe (6) : sixth captain of the Deschamps era (started in 2012) for his 27th cap, the PSG central defender played a match worthy of his status tonight. Extremely solid in the duels, he did not let anything pass against the opposing forwards… at least before the last 10 minutes, more complicated for him. He was cautioned at the end of the game (84th), and seemed to have lost his nerves a little.

Digne (5,5) : very combative, willing and available in the offensive phase, the Aston Villa left-back showed an interesting face on the pitch of the Poljud Stadium. We also saw him distilling some well placed crosses into the box. A serious alternative to Theo Hernandez on the left.

Guendouzi (4) : the midfielder of Olympique de Marseille had a rather complicated game against the vice-champions of the world in title. The Guendouzi of this season in Ligue 1 seems to need a break, as he struggled to have the same impact as in his club against Croatia. He still had a lot of energy, for once.

Tchouameni (6): the first spearhead of the French team, the Monaco midfielder touched a lot of balls (66). Present in the physical impact, he also scratched some. He also did not hesitate to try his luck from afar (40th). It should be noted that the player announced at Real Madrid, who slightly dropped his foot in the second half, could have avoided a few losses of ball (8). And to think that it was only his 10th selection… Replaced by Kamara (61st).

Diaby (5,5) : very active in his right flank, the Bayer Leverkusen player made his opponent Borna Barišić have a bad night. The PSG-trained attacking element could have had his first international goal if he had not lost his one-on-one in the first half to Dominik Livaković (39th). However, he had a harder time making differences in the second half. Replaced by Clauss (79th), who very quickly conceded the penalty that brought Croatia’s equalizer (82nd).

Nkunku (6.5): In the absence of Kylian Mbappé and Karim Benzema up front, the RB Leipzig striker proved that he has a say in the World Cup in Qatar at the end of the year. Very active, percussive and precise in his transmissions, he could have scored (goal disallowed for a slight offside position at the half-hour mark) or turned into a passer for Antoine Griezmann. His offer to Griezmann could have been decisive at the beginning of the last quarter of an hour (76th).

Rabiot (6): Very active and in the heart of the game when the Blues were in possession of the ball, the Juventus midfielder had a satisfactory game on the left flank. Defensively involved, and valuable with his runs and projections in offensive situations, like his goal (52nd), the former Parisian reminded us how useful he could be in this particular role.

Ben Yedder (4): Faced with the Vatreni’s well-established block, the AS Monaco forward had a hard time showing up in Split. He has, as usual, stalled a lot to try to touch the ball. If he didn’t have much to do (12 balls only), he “saves” his match thanks to his beautiful decisive inspiration for Rabiot, author of the winning goal (52nd). Replaced by Griezmann (61st), who lacked lucidity when he had a match ball between the sticks (87th).

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