It is the last chance for Belgium’s golden generation, who face Croatia this afternoon and need a result to reach the knockout stage of the World Cup. Roberto Martinez’s team entered the tournament as second in the world, but were very impressed.
Croatia, who came second at the last World Cup, can be categorized as seasoned veterans, supported by younger stars Josko Gvardiol and Nikola Vlasic. They just need a point against Belgium, while the Red Devils have to win not to count on a helping hand from Canada.
Martinez says the pressure of expectation affected his players in the first two games but will not be a problem today. Croatian head coach Zlatko Dalic agrees, insisting that rumors of Belgium’s demise are greatly exaggerated. We’re about to make sure it’s a sticking point in Group F. Follow the match LIVE below with our dedicated match blog.
Croatia 0-0 Belgium, 37 minutes
Fantastic restoration work by Ivan Perisic. Leander Dendoncker gains possession in the Croatia half and passes to Leandro Trossard, who swings around as his teammates go forward in transition. Trossard takes half a beat too long to release his pass, allowing Perisic to harpoon the ball with the tip of his right boot, while Kevin De Bruyne has peeled a frustrated figure in a fine cross position down the right.
Croatia 0-0 Belgium, 33 minutes
Croatia look much more skilled as they go forward. Borna Sosa and Ivan Perisic work neatly on the left, with their final combination resulting in a deep cross that lands on Marko Livaja’s head.
Livaja crawls under and tries to nod the ball over Thibaut Courtois, but flies just a little too far – over the corner of the goal.
Croatia 0-0 Belgium, 31 minutes
Belgium is really fighting to inject any kind of pace. Dries Mertens swings in a completely directionless cross from the left, the ball both so shallow and underbeat that in the end it’s completely unclear who the striker, now from Galatasaray, was actually aiming for.
Croatia 0-0 Belgium, 29 minutes
A slightly slower game seems to suit Croatia, which is starting to get back into shape. Jan Vertonghen and Toby Alderweireld exchanged many passes in the last five minutes.
Croatia 0-0 Belgium, 26 minutes
Perisic then takes a corner kick to Thomas Meunier’s lower limbs.
Croatia 0-0 Belgium, 25 minutes
That was done very coolly by Ivan Perisic, who led a header all the way back to his goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic after a ball made its way aimlessly in a loop 30 yards out.
Croatia 0-0 Belgium, 24 minutes
Morocco has doubled its lead against Canada – it looks like the North African side will surely be one of the Group F teams to progress to the last 16.
A few whistles from the audience while the current standings in the group are displayed on the big screen. Croatia would finish second behind Morocco if this remains goalless.
Croatia 0-0 Belgium, 22 minutes
That long delay punctured quite a game that bubbled up quite nicely in the first quarter. Belgium plays the ball in the back, lucky to keep it.
No penalty! Croatia 0-0 Belgium, 19 minutes
Wow – no fine! The VAR call came late, with Luka Modric already 12 yards out over the ball. But Dejan Lovren’s shoulder was just past the last defender’s back point as he prepared to contest the first free-kick, rendering Yannick Carrasco’s rather obvious foot on the top of Andrej Kramaric’s boot irrelevant.
Anthony Taylor reverses his call, infuriating the Croatian players – it was pretty tight too.
Or is it? Croatia 0-0 Belgium, 16 minutes
VAR Marko Fritz has called to Anthony Taylor and asked the referee to check the monitor for possible offside.