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8/10 Rakitic, Mandzukic lead Croatia's effort

Croatia Player Ratings

Transfer Rater: Mandzukic to Man United

Football Whispers

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Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba combined once again vs. Leganes, showing again their unique understanding of one another.
Lionel Messi and Jordi Alba combined again vs. Leganes, once more showing their unique understanding of one another.

Do you ever get a sense of deja vu when watching football?

Not just when your side throws away a lead in stoppage time yet again, or loses another derby, or concedes to an ex-player for the third consecutive game.

But more literal deja vu -- when you watch a side scoring a goal they've scored again and again. Whether it's through a deliberate strategy, or because two players' natural characteristics fit together neatly, some teams have a very familiar type of goal. Here are four examples from...

Cristiano Ronaldo, Mario Mandzukic deliver again on the big stage for Juventus

Cristiano Ronaldo and Mario Mandzukic inspired a Juventus comeback to beat rivals Napoli and make an early statement in the Serie A title race.

It was dramatic but after a terrible start, Juventus' intensity and superiority emerged and the home side defeated Napoli 3-1 to open a temporary six-point gap at the top of the Serie A table.

Juve started poorly, misplacing passes and slow in their movement. Napoli were first to everything, winning the ball, dominating possession and imposing their attacking fluidity to score the opening goal within the first 10 minutes.

However, Juventus eventually settled in, playing the best football they've...

Juventus striker Mario Mandzukic retires from Croatia national team

Mario Manduzkic has confirmed his retirement from the Croatia national team with a letter posted via his Twitter account.

The Juventus striker is second only to Davor Suker in his country's all-time leading goal scorers list with 33 from 89 appearances. This summer, his three goals -- scored in the round of 16, semifinals and final -- helped Croatia reach their first-ever World Cup final, where they were beaten 4-2 by France in Russia.

"Dear fans," he wrote. "I always preferred to do my talking...

World Cup by the numbers - 169 goals, 29 penalties, 10 late winners, 4 red cards

ESPN's Charlie Gibson puts a bow on Project Russia from a scintillating final, as France claimed World Cup glory.

France beat Croatia 4-2 to win the title for the second time and cap off a memorable World Cup in Russia. ESPN brings you the best numbers from what has been a World Cup of records.


This World Cup produced 169 goals, making it the third most prolific World Cup of all time. Only 1998 and 2014 produced more goals (171 in each). It is worth noting that the top four high-scoring World Cups of all time have come over the last six editions, since the tournament was expanded to 32 teams, and 64 matches...

Ivan Rakitic, Mario Mandzukic lead Croatia in losing World Cup final effort

Although Croatia had more control and were arguably the better side in the first half of Saturday's World Cup final, they were on the wrong end of an own goal and had a penalty awarded against them for handball, both after set pieces.

They also started strong after the break, but that meant taking more risks and leaving space for Kylian Mbappe, which proved their undoing in France's 4-2 victory. Accumulated fatigue probably did play a part, just enough to briefly lose focus in key situations; France...

 By Michael Cox

World Cup finalists France, Croatia owe a lot to old-school Giroud, Mandzukic

They don't make them like Olivier Giroud and Mario Mandzukic these days. Or rather, they try not to.

World Cup 2018 has been utterly dominated by European nations, who contributed 11 of the 16 second-round sides, six of the eight quarterfinal teams, all four semifinalists and therefore, of course, both France and Croatia in Sunday's final. While tactical sophistication is frequently (and unfairly) cited as the main strength of European nations, as compared to sides from other continents, realistically...