This game was the perfect case study – the 4-3-3 dominated possession (70% compared to 30%) but the 4-4-2 was more direct and created more goalscoring chances (13 shots, 9 on target, 3 goals compared to 2, 0, 0) according to UEFA.
So, how did Croatia do it? For the first five minutes, they pressed heavily at the top of the pitch, with both Olic and Mandzukic working tirelessly to close down the centre-backs and the deepest Turkey midfielder, Selcuk Inan. Mandzukic would often drop deep onto Inan to prevent him getting the ball, and then when Croatia won the ball, he’d sprint forward to join Olic whilst Inan would be attracted to the ball.
The early goal was crucial, because it meant Turkey had to attack and leave spaces at the back for Croatia breaks. Those attacks from the away side were very quick, generally coming down the flanks – Croatia would leave one player in front of the defence, usually Tomislav Dujmovic, but the rest would break forward immediately. Rakitic and Darijo Srna were the key players, able to pick up the ball in space and run at the Turkey full-backs – both of whom had very poor games.