Who are the dark horses at EURO 2020?
After a year-long wait, it's finally time for the EURO 2020. As always a lot of people will try to predict the outcomes of the matches and ultimately predict who is gonna win it. But who are the dark horses? Who is going to surprise us the most, will it be Netherlands, Denmark, or Croatia?
This will be the last of the three long-reads in total, where we are going to take a look at the dark horses for the European Championship. Previously we looked at the Netherlands and Denmark and we will close it off by analyzing Croatia.
Croatia had their best run ever during the 2018 World Cup where they eventually got second place after losing to France in the finals. Will they repeat their tournament run during the upcoming tournament? Their squad has not changed much other than the miss of Rakitić and Mandžukić. Hypercube predicts Croatia only has a 1.6% chance of winning the Euros, which even puts them below Wales and Ukraine.
The Croatian squad has a lot of familiar names that have been part of it for many years with lots of tournament experience. In the article, we will look at which players are likely to start for the Croatian side. We are very curious as to how Croatia will perform during the Euros and if they can go the distance again.
Looking at recent matches it seems like Croatia has found its defensive duo for the Euros in Vida and Ćaleta-Car, as they have played together for the last three matches. They both have similar stats and also have the most playing minutes. Looking at the stats however we are surprised to not see Lovren getting a starting place, as he has slightly better defensive stats. It will probably be between Lovren and Vida at right center-back as they have a lot of experience and have a similar playing style. This will also be the first tournament of young talent Gvardiol who we featured in our blog about Croatian talents.
The midfield is the strongest part of the Croatian team and it looks like they have found their three starting midfielders in Modrić, Brozović, and Kovačić. This looks like a very well-balanced midfield with Brozović being the defending midfielder. Kovačić and Modrić will be the link between the defense and attack for the team, with Modrić being the best passer and playmaker and Kovačić being more of a box-to-box player.
If Croatia wants to play with a more attacking midfield they have two great options in Nikola Vlašić and Ante Rebić, with Vlašić being the best-attacking midfielder having 6.84 successful attacking actions per match.
The best-attacking player Croatia has at its disposal is Ivan Perišić, he is also the only attacking player that is a regular starter for Croatia in the last two games. He has a lot of experience when it comes to playing tournaments and also scored one of the goals in the semi-final at the 2018 World Cup that made Croatia reach the final.
To find out who will be the striker we took a more in-depth look at the attacking side of Croatia. Starting off with goals vs assists and looking at passing after that.
Goals vs assists
The scatter plot below shows us that Kramarić is the best goal scorer in the squad, scoring 0.55 goals on average per 90 minutes. Petković doesn't nearly score as many goals as Kramarić does, but he does have way more assists. On the bottom, we also see Budimir who almost never provides an assist and scores only a bit more compared to Petković.
Passes vs percentage successful
Looking at the passing stats we once again see that Kramarić takes the edge having more passes and being the most accurate out of all attackers. Petković still has decent passing stats, but he does have a way lower success rate compared to Kramarić. This indicates that Kramarić is more involved in the team and also better at keeping the ball in attack.
It is not clear yet who is going to play as a striker for Croatia with them switching between three different strikers in the last three games. If we look at the stats of Kramarić, Petković, and Budimir, we see that Budimir has the worst stats out of all three and the stats of Kramarić and Petković are very similar. Kramarić is just ahead of Petković in stats having scored more goals last season and being a little better when it comes to passing. So it will be interesting to see who is going to start for Croatia in their tournament opener against England.