Football Tactics for Beginners:The High Defensive Line

Introduction: The high defensive line is a high risk style of play that see’s a team push up in order to shut down the amount...
Ritesh Gogineni
Editor/Founder of The False 9. Inverted Wingers,Carilleros,Cattenacio,Double Pivots,Medianos,Mezzalas and of course The False Nines we have got it all here for the tactic-crazy football fan!

Latest Posts

China – The Relationship Between Society and Football and Why the Two Must Adapt to Progress

In 2012, the current President of China, Xi Jinping, stated his desire for the country to set its sights on a World Cup trophy,...

Remembering Arthur Wharton: The First Black Professional Footballer

In an interview from 1888, Arthur Wharton recalled overhearing a conversation between two fellow track competitors some years before. “Who’s he,” one rhetorically asked,...

Analysis of Man City’s 9 league losses or The Importance of Kevin De Bruyne

With debates regarding the PFA Player of the Year vote for the Premier League, I decided to dig deeper and research the Kevin de...

The Jürgen Klopp Pressing system

If a single tactical feature were to be used to define a manager, for Jurgen Klopp, it would certainly be the pressing or the...

  The different methods to Marcelo Bielsa’s madness

The current Leeds United manager and arguably the most influential coach in modern football, Marcelo Bielsa is the subject of this analysis because I’m...

The Tactical Feud of our Times: Klopp vs Guardiola

The end of a 30-year old wait in conquering the first English tier for Liverpool coincided with a visit from their main rivals the...

Tottenham 2: 1 Arsenal- Tactical Analysis

In this analysis, we will be observing the tactics of Mikel Arteta and José Mourinho in their recent Premier League clash. Spurs eventually won...

Football Books

Best Football Analytics Books

We have compiled a list of the best football analytics books for the casual football fan. Football analytics and data science/machine learning in general...

The Best Football Books of 2019

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2020, we have compiled a list of the best...

The Best Football Books of 2018

It's been another eventful year in the world of football. As we look forward to 2019, we have compiled a list of the best...

5 Books every Soccer fan needs to read before the FIFA World Cup 2018

The FIFA World Cup is just around the corner and it's the perfect time to brush up your history and facts about the World...

Best Soccer Coaching Books

We have compiled a list of the best soccer coaching books which every soccer coach must have in his/her bookshelf. No matter whether you...

World Cup 2014:Croatia-Player Profile-Mateo Kovačić

June 11th 2010: the World Cup opening ceremony kicked off in front of the capacity crowd at the Soccer City stadium in Johannesburg, Mateo Kovačić was yet to train permanently with the senior at his club side Dinamo Zagreb and hadn’t even come close to a full international cap. He was still playing with the Croatian Under 17’s setup at this point.
June 12th 2014: this year, he’ll be in attendance at the lavish ceremony planned for the Arena de Sao Paulo in front of an almost-capacity crowd; the stadium isn’t fully constructed yet.
Kovačić has come an awful long way in the space of four years but it is hardly surprising when you learn he is nicknamed ‘The Professor’ by his team-mates; he turned 20 at the beginning of May. He’ll certainly be one of the youngest to feature in Brazil, and one of the most admired. The Internazionale midfielder has been touted as a future star ever since he could kick a ball, and was signed up by local side LASK Linz – a historic club, but one which currently languishes in the third tier of Austrian football.

Born in Austria to Bosnian-Croatian parents, Kovačić’s allegiance to Croatia never wavered – and he’s represented them for almost a decade – beginning at Under 14 level all the way through to becoming a fully-fledged international, culminating in the upcoming World Cup. Croatia have rewarded his fidelity, too. He’s one of the nation’s most prized assets. In 2011 he was named ‘Croatian Football Hope of the Year’, a lofty amount of pressure to place on the shoulders of a then 17-year old. He’s handled it well, though – heading into his third year in Milan at Internazionale, he is in good stead to continue to build on his reputation as one of Europe’s top-rated young talents. A large amount of credit, must go to his Father, and the life-altering decisions he made for Mateo in his early teenage years.

With top European scouting networks being what they are, it didn’t take too long for Kovačić to be identified as a standout talent in the youth setup in Zagreb. Ajax, Arsenal, Bayern Munich, Internazionale and Juventus all expressed an interest in the young starlet in his early teenage years – all efforts made by each of these clubs were rebuffed by his Father, who even rejected a move to Mateo’s current club Inter Milan in 2007. When an offer came from Mercedes-backed Bundesliga outfit Stuttgart, a clause was inserted to the deal by the top brass at Daimler AG Headquarters which guaranteed Mateo’s Father Stipo a well paid job with the company on arrival alongside his young son. This offer too, was rejected.

Stipo Kovačić admitted he had always dreamt of living in Zagreb, and drinking coffee in the Ban Jelačić Square; so, when the offer came from Dinamo to acquire a then 13-year old Mateo for their budding youth system – it was accepted and he moved there. Stipo is quoted as saying “Drinking coffee there [the square] is worth much more than thousands of Euros”. A questionable statement, but the family moved from Linz in Austria at that time, and remain in Zagreb to this day.

Kovačić didn’t take long to make his mark. Under Vahid Halilhodžić, current Algeria coach – it would take nothing less than a miracle to see the two meet in Brazil, he was brought into the first-team. He debuted at the tender age of 16 [and 198 days], becoming the youngest player and scorer; he bagged a goal on his debut, to have appeared in the Croatian top division – the Prva NHL. With Croatia’s World Cup side certain to feature Luka Modrić fresh off the back of his side’s Champions League triumph, and Ivan Rakitić who also comes in on a high; having lifted the Europa League with his domestic side, Sevilla – who he captains. It’s understandable then to wonder quite where Mateo Kovačić will fit in, amidst this plethora of playmaking talent.

His path to the inevitable success the future holds for him has become rocky this year with Internazionale appointing Walter Mazzarri, a man who at times seemed unwilling to risk playing Kovačić in his side; given his rather undeveloped nature as a footballer – he instead opted for experience, but experience doesn’t necessarily bring ability; and the season was inevitably fruitless. The midfielder averaged a mere 46 minutes per-game for the Nerazzurri in the 2013/14 Serie A campaign. The midfielder put in a stellar performance in Javier Zanetti’s farewell game at the San Siro, racking up a hat-trick of assists in a 4-1 victory over Lazio – the youngster perhaps had an eye on the World Cup, with the season concluding. Zanetti himself has noted that young Mateo is the “future of Internazionale. And I’m old enough to be his Father”. Praise indeed.

                                                 

 The question then is, where will the 20-year old fit in for the Croatian side? Given Rakitić’s and Modrić’s spectacular season’s, the midfield is swamped with creativity as it stands. New coach Niko Kovač has promised though, to do away with the perpetual tactical experiments of his predecessor Igor Štimac; and solidify the team in a 4-2-3-1 ‘come 4-1-4-1’ formation. This appears to be good news for Kovačić who has featured behind the striker in both of Croatia’s most recent warm-up games, and laid on a goal for Ivaca Olić against Switzerland.

A creative axis comprised of Luka Modrić, Ivan Rakitić and Mateo Kovačić is a frightening thought. But it isn’t quite as simple as that. Kovačić isn’t as sculpted, not as cultured and certainly not as industrial as his playmaking compatriots. He will need to be given more time, more space – he isn’t as capable as Luka nor Ivan in working in compact areas of the field and given Brazil’s high pressure nature, also taking into account that it’s the opening game of their host World Cup – perhaps it is wise to acknowledge there be an absence of the fireworks we’d like to see from Mateo, come June 12th.

Croatia return to the World Cup this summer having missed South Africa in 2010, the first time they’d failed to qualify in 4 attempts. This for many is as exciting as we’ve seen a Croatian side since their ‘Golden [Bronze] Generation’ of 1998, featuring the likes of Davor Šuker and captain Zvonimir Boban. The latter said of Kovačić when Inter signed him – “He could be a better player than I was. He’s a complete talent”. No better place to fulfil your potential than in front of the World, Mateo.

- Advertisement -
Ritesh Gogineni
Editor/Founder of The False 9. Inverted Wingers,Carilleros,Cattenacio,Double Pivots,Medianos,Mezzalas and of course The False Nines we have got it all here for the tactic-crazy football fan!

Related

China – The Relationship Between Society and Football and Why the Two Must Adapt to Progress

In 2012, the current President of China, Xi Jinping, stated his desire for the country to set its sights on a World Cup trophy,...

Promising Teams We Wished Made it to The Euros

The European Championship is considered one of football's most distinguished trophies, with teams battling it out for untold glory. But what of the teams who...

Why it makes sense for England to switch to a back three formation

England labored their way into the World Cup after beating Slovenia in the most depressing match involving a Slovenian since Melania married Donald Trump....

Tactical Analysis: France 3-2 England | England Fail In 3-4-2-1 Experiment

Gareth Southgate sent his team out in a 3-4-2-1 formation which became one of the most used formations during last year in the big...

Tactical Analysis: Brazil 0-1 Argentina | Glimpses Of Future Under Sampaoli As Brazil Waste Chances

The 2017 Superclásico de las Américas game between the South American rivals served as an intriguing curtain raiser to Jorge Sampaoli’s reign as the...

A History of the England Football Kit

In 1872, the first ever official international football match took place at the West of Scotland Cricket Club in Glasgow. The match was between...

A Guide to Corruption in Brazilian Football

Corruption in Brazil as a whole According to the World Economic Forum, out of the 138 nations researched, Brazil is the 4th most corrupt nation...

Tactical Analysis- USA 4-0 Trinidad & Tobago

The US Men’s National Soccer team closed out the opening round of World Cup 2018 qualifying with a comprehensive and emphatic 4-0 victory of...

Latest Posts

China – The Relationship Between Society and Football and Why the Two Must Adapt to Progress

In 2012, the current President of China, Xi Jinping, stated his desire for the country to set its sights on a World Cup trophy,...

Real Madrid and Barcelona remain the most valuable football clubs

Football is the most popular sport in the world, and so it is understandable that the biggest football clubs will also be some of...

Remembering Arthur Wharton: The First Black Professional Footballer

In an interview from 1888, Arthur Wharton recalled overhearing a conversation between two fellow track competitors some years before. “Who’s he,” one rhetorically asked,...

How will Coutinho fit in at Arsenal: Arteta’s new look 4-2-3-1 formation

English outlet, Express are reporting that Arsenal are considering a loan deal for Barcelona's record signing, Philippe Coutinho. The report indicates that Coutinho might have...

Don't Miss

The Jürgen Klopp Pressing system

If a single tactical feature were to be used to define a manager, for Jurgen Klopp, it would certainly be the pressing or the...

A look back at Liverpool’s treble winning 1983/84 season

In the wake of Manchester City’s record-breaking claim to the Premier League, The False 9 will look back at some of the greatest club...

Hungary – The Golden Team that never quite made it.

When you look back at the history of past World Cup winners and European Championship winners the usual names by in large stand out....

Football And Alcohol

      “When I read about the evils of drinking, I gave up reading.” Football and booze go a long long way back, in...

The Original Invincibles- Preston North End 1888/89

In the wake of Manchester City’s record-breaking claim to the Premier League, The False 9 will look back at some of the greatest club...

Transfers

How will Coutinho fit in at Arsenal: Arteta’s new look 4-2-3-1 formation

English outlet, Express are reporting that Arsenal are considering a loan deal for Barcelona's record signing, Philippe Coutinho. The report indicates that Coutinho might have...

How will Pjanic fit in at Barcelona? A look at Barcelona’s 4-3-3 formation for next season

As the deal between Barcelona and Juventus regarding the transfers of Arthur Melo and Miralem Pjanic has almost been finalised, let's take a look...

Three best Premier League transfers of all time

The Premier League is famous for its lavish spending on player’s transfers. Top clubs like Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United have been spending...

Where will Kai Havertz play for Chelsea? A look at Lampard’s exciting 4-2-3-1 formation for next season

There have been several rumours surrounding Kai Havertz's transfer to Chelsea and Havertz's current boss, Peter Bosz has indicated that the winger might not...

Man United expected lineup against Sheffield United: Pogba & Bruno to start together for first time

Manchester United salvaged a draw against Tottenham in their first game post the lockdown. Their performance improved after the substitutions of Paul Pogba and...