Domagoj Vida is our Hero of the Day as Croatia defender makes an impact at both ends of the pitch

Matt Jones - Editor 01:43 08/07/2018
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Brought to you by Dior Sauvage

Croatia matched the epic feat of their golden generation two decades ago as they claimed a place in the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup by beating hosts Russia in a penalty shootout.

Andrej Kramaric equalised after Denis Cheryshev netted his fourth goal of the tournament to put Russia 1-0 ahead. Domagoj Vida nodded Croatia in front during extra-time only for Mario Fernandes to dramatically send the game to penalties.

Here, we analyse the performance of defensive rock Vida, who was a factor at both ends of the field.

STATISTICS

08 07 hero of day Domagoj Vida

30-SECOND REPORT

With such attacking riches at their disposal, it is not too often that Croatia’s defenders earn the plaudits. But with Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic struggling to prize open a resilient Russia defence, it was Vida who led them to victory as he nodded them in front during the first period of extra-time. He then stepped up to bury his spot kick in the shootout.

With the class of 2018 chasing the history made by the country’s golden generation of 1998, it was one of their most unlikely stars who shone brighter than anyone else.

GOT RIGHT

Spot on – In such a stellar side packed with technically gifted players, you would have given Croatia the edge in a penalty shootout. Zlatko Dalic selected Modric, Rakitic, Marcelo Brozovic and Mateo Kovacic as four of his five penalty takers. The other? Vida. But he showed nerves of steel as well as Real Madrid magician Kovacic how it’s done by rifling his penalty into Igor Akinfeev’s bottom right corner. Coolness personified.

All-round impact – Modric and Rakitic have the ability to carve open opponents at will, but it is the striking figure of Vida with his blend of shaved head and ponytail who has proved a cut above at this tournament. He has been immense at the heart of the Vatreni defence, among their leaders in clearances (5.8), aerials won (2.8) and interceptions (1.5) per game. His form was rewarded with him finding the net, crucially, twice.

GOT WRONG

Aerial presence – Although he used his head to great effect to give his side a 2-1 lead in extra-time, at the other end of the field Vida wasn’t as dominant as he only won four aerial duels, compared to Dejan Lovren who was utterly dominant against Russia’s fearsome and physical Artem Dzyuba, winning 10 battles in the air.

VERDICT

Vida has gone quietly about his business in Russia, forming the solid centre-back partnership with the much-maligned Lovren. They have been the bedrock behind Croatia’s craftsmen ahead of them who grab all the limelight.

But here, Vida was very much the man, putting in a stoic shift in defence and also finding the net on two occasions. With his ridiculous haircut he may not look much like someone who should be taken seriously. But he is the courage to Croatia’s craft.

RATING: 8/10

All statistics are compiled using whoscored.com

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