Borna Barisic last night ran out as a starter, as always, for Croatia’s Nation’s League clash with Portugal.
In truth, even without Ronaldo in their side, the hosts absolutely outclassed the visiting Croats, and were far too good for the world cup finalists.
It was just a night where it worked for the Seleção and it just didn’t for the visitors. But we’re more interested in two important aspects – Barisic’s performance, and his potential injury.
We’ll start with his display. In this more compressed Croatia, the Rangers star found his ventures forwards absolutely limited – he barely got past the half way line for the majority of the night, and indeed only managed, by his standards, an absolutely pathetic 4 crosses, none of which were on target. His passing average was pretty poor for his level, at just 78%, one of the weakest in his side (including subs), and overall as an attacking force, it was not a good night for him (or indeed his team mates).
Funnily enough, it wasn’t a particularly good one for them defensively either, but Barisic did show that he is a fine defensive left back when that is needed.
On a night his men got thumped, Barisic still accrued an excellent 4 successful tackles, 2 interceptions and three clearances. That shows that when he has to roll his sleeves up, he can do the dirty stuff extremely well too.
He didn’t exactly shine in this match, because of how Portugal absolutely dominated it, maybe not utterly in possession (57%) but certainly in quality. Indeed, Croatia mustered just 5 shots all match, with two on target (one was a late consolation goal) compared to Portugal’s 27 shots with a superb 11 on target, which shows the gulf here.
But it was the way Barisic was able to deliver a good defensive performance (just one of the shots of Portugal’s 27) was from the left which demonstrates that the player is, even on a night where his best qualities don’t get the chance to shine, an outstanding asset and valuable.
As for the injury, we hope it’s not serious – he went down with a late knock and required treatment – he hobbled away and was able to see the match out but it could really hurt in the morning and we certainly prefer it’s not going to see him miss the next one.