DOHA ( Associated Press) – She showed speed running across the court, took advantage of opportunities and found her goal. Leo Perisic has surely learned a thing or two from his father.
Ivan Perisic brought the usual World Cup quality to help Croatia advance to the semi-finals. Meanwhile, his youngest son contributed to one of the most emotional moments of the tournament.
In the quarter-finals, Croatia had eliminated Brazil on penalties and Leo somehow managed to get onto the pitch. He ran towards the center circle, where Dani Alves was trying to comfort Neymar.
The boy, who was wearing a Croatia jersey with his father’s No. 4, was initially unable to reach Neymar. An employee of the Brazilian delegation stopped him.
After waiting, Leo Perisic reached out to the Brazilian star, who looked at him and finally hugged him.
Now the time has come that his father should also take advantage of the opportunities he got in this World Cup. He has always shown that he knows how to do it. Like his teammate Luka Modric, Perisic answers for the Croatian team on big occasions.
Like when he scored in the 2018 World Cup final or when he scored 10 goals in five consecutive relevant tournaments to become the top scorer for his country.
Just last week, he pulled his team out of a tight spot in the Round of 16 against Japan when it seemed the Croat had run out of ideas.
Even at the age of 33, Perisic looks very strong. He is a constant presence on the left flank for the national side and has shown his ability to supply crosses with both feet and accelerate into the box.
On Monday, a day before Croatia take on Argentina in the semi-finals, Perisic was asked who should be considered a World Cup great considering what he has done for his team in the last two editions.
Polite as ever, he declined comment.
“I said it many times, the important thing for me is not the goal or the record that I can achieve,” he replied. “It is important that the national team or your club is winning. If I get a few goals or assists, it is added value. I do what they ask me to do.”
For Croatia this means playing on the left side of the attacking trio. This gives him more opportunities to score and assist when he plays for Tottenham, where he usually operates as a full-back in coach Antonio Conte’s scheme.
Maybe there is something missing in the London team.
And it is that Perisic is very good at handling the ball with both feet and goes forward very well. It is very difficult to stop it.
Japan could not. The Croatian came into the meeting with a cross into the area and headed to the base of a post from the penalty spot.
Four years earlier, in the final against France, he had equalized 1–1 with a left-footed shot from just inside the area. It was also Perisic who leveled the semi-final contest with England, firing a volley that led the Croats to a comeback victory in Moscow, 2–1.
Coach Zlatko Dalić has said that the win over England was the most important in Croatian history. Perisic believes the match against Argentina is equally important.
“I think it’s going to be that kind of match,” Perisic said. England also had a good side, but a lot depends on us. If we play the right way, like we did against Brazil in the quarter-finals, anything is possible.”
While this could be Perisic’s last World Cup, there is more talk of the impending departure of Modric, who at the age of 37 remains the heart of the team.
And it also motivates Perisic for the game against Lionel Messi-led Argentina, who may be playing his last World Cup.
“We saw a few days ago that Portugal and Cristiano (Ronaldo) lost,” he said. “He came here five times in the World Cup, and he couldn’t win. Messi tries to achieve it in his fifth chance with Argentina. He will try his best to reach the final and win the trophy, but we will not be able to focus on our performance. Will be 100 percent.”
Steve Douglas is at https://twitter.com/sdouglas80