Croatia 0-0 Japan
After all the excitement of Saturday’s three frankly insane matches, we were back to something approaching drudgery as Japan took on Croatia. It’s worth congratulating Japan for bouncing back from back from what could have been a psychologically traumatising defeat by the Australians, but they still largely had their goalkeeper Kawaguchi to thank for still being in the competition (albeit only mathematically). Their extraordinary fans deserve better.
Croatia remain something of an enigma. Having played excellently against Brazil and been unlucky not to have claimed a point from that match, they seemed unable to convert the praise that thet received from that game into anything positive in this one. They certainly had the better of the chances – the penalty was clearly a correct decision, and there was nothing particularly wrong with the kick from Srna, but other than that Prso was disappointing, Kovac never got fully involved in the game, and Croatia’s failure to finish of the Japanese may prove costly. They now have to beat Australia to qualify.
At the end of the match, Japan seemed happier with the point, which seemed odd, considering that they now have to beat Brazil and hope that Croatia beat Argentina in order to get through to the next round. They seem to have come into this competition with lower expectations than maybe we expected. Good job, I think. Despite Brazil’s insipid performance against Australia (which I’ll come onto shortly), I can’t see it happening for them.