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Livakovic, the enlightened man who did not save penalties

2022-12-13T11:14:03.494Z


Not even the Croatian coaches expected the display of their goalkeeper in the Qatar shootouts that places him among the best in history


Croatia's third goalkeeper at the World Cup in Russia, Dominik Livakovic, now 27, has emerged in Qatar as one of the most enlightened goalkeepers in World Cup history, and no one expected it.

Not even in his national team, as Nikola Jerkan, a former international soccer player who played for Real Oviedo in Spain and is now a scout for Croatian rivals, recounted: “We didn't know he could do that.

He hadn't given us that impression."

Until his prodigious display in the penalty shootout against Japan.

He stopped three, something that only the Portuguese Ricardo had achieved in a World Cup, in 2006, and the also Croatian Subasic in 2018. There was hardly any material to predict something like that.

The website specialized in football metrics fbref.com has data from 268 of his matches, 230 with Dinamo Zagreb (League, Champions League and Europa League) and 38 with the national team.

And only two penalties saved.

In those 268 recorded games, Livakovic faced 20 shots from 11 meters, two of them with Croatia.

The first of which they have news was stopped on October 22, 2020, in a match of the previous phase of the Europa League and his feat preserved the tie for Dinamo Zagreb against Feyenoord.

The other was on July 23, on the second day of the Croatian League, at Dinamo-Slaven Belupo.

So unsuspected was his amazing skill in the tandas, as uncertain had been his presence in Qatar.

A year before the World Cup, Livakovic had lost the confidence of the coach, Zlatko Dalic.

After an injury, he did not finish recovering the point and they left him out of several Nations League matches.

In that difficult moment, Luka Modric had a chat with him that has become famous because it was recorded by cameras and was included in the documentary series

Capitanes

, released shortly before the tournament.

The Real Madrid footballer sits down with him at a rally and is tough and sincere: “I wouldn't be telling you this if I didn't care about you.

I don't see you progressing with the selection.

Is it because of the pressure?

"Could be," he replies.

And Modric continues: “You convey little confidence.

That rubs off on the team, you know?

Why can't you make a mistake?

They are all wrong.

I think your problem is that you are afraid to commit them.

I didn't come here afraid.

“It only makes things worse.

-I understand.

—You are a porter.

You know that, right?

His subsequent performance in the shootouts against Japan and Brazil is typical of an enlightened man, and places him at the level of the greatest in the World Cups, who stopped four shots: Schumacher in 1982 and 1986, Goycochea in 1990 and his compatriot Subasic in 2018, when he was looking at him from the bottom of the bench, as a third option.

In that tournament, the two goalkeepers, both born in Zadar, although separated by 10 years, strengthened their relationship in the family environment of the Croatian team.

They spent more time together than ever, between training and concentration in Russia.

It is difficult to find a technical explanation for a country having two goalkeepers with such a level of inspiration in two consecutive World Cups.

Jerkan attributes the prodigy to the field of absolute conviction that Croatia has built in these last four years.

“We don't know how to explain this level, nor do we,” he says.

“But we have an impressive mentality, we all give our best.

We are a family, and we are so sorry and we are so willing to give everything for our country, and we are so proud to represent it, that we have an impressive force.”

Subasic's influence is still present in the Croatian camp, as Juranovic recounted: "He congratulated us on Brazil and wished us luck against Argentina."

It's not hard to think that Livakovic's displays are mostly about emotionality and a head that is unshakable.

He is a goalkeeper with very uneven virtues, dazzling in shoot-outs but incomplete in other facets of the game.

He too anchored in the goal and with gaps overlooked: in the final stretch of the game against Belgium, he missed two lateral crosses that ended up falling to Lukaku, alone in the small area.

Croatia is still here because those failures happened on the Belgian's least successful night.

But in the mental war of penalties, in that solitary duel, it has been another person.

“It is above all intuition.

And he lasts a long time before jumping ”, highlights Jerkan.

In the two tie-break rounds they have shot him seven times and he has guessed the direction in five.

Japan stopped all three pitches.

With Brazil he stopped Rodrygo's, guessed Casemiro's and missed it and Pedro was the first to deceive him and mark him, with the sixth shot.

Then Marquinhos also outwitted him, but hit the post.

A goal in seven shots from a goalkeeper who has become the last wall of Croatian resistance when they hold out until penalties.

To a guy who reacted when he saw himself outside and Modric explained why they needed something else from him.

“People don't understand how much work and analyze the matches.

Sometimes too much," Petkovic said.

“He is allergic to mistakes.

If he commits one, he sure as hell doesn't sleep."

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Source: elparis

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