The verdict on Josip Juranovic after Celtic defender makes first World Cup start

By John McGinley

November 23, 2022

Celtic defender Josip Juranovic made his first start at the World Cup this morning, playing the entire 90 minutes of a 0-0 Croatia draw against Morocco.

It was a frustrating day for the Croatians who may well have been looking for a victory to open up their tournament, after such a bright showing four years ago. With Belgium and Canada still to come in Group F, there are no easy matches for them.

Morocco largely kept their opponents quiet, with goalkeeper Yassine Bounou only having one real save of note to make late on in the opening period.

Photo by Adam Pretty – FIFA/FIFA via Getty Images

That lack of attacking ambition really told the story of Croatia’s performance overall, as well as Juranovic’s in isolation – especially in a very passive first half.

Croatia failed to get either the Celtic defender or Stuttgart star Borna Sosa into attacking positions consistently enough, or players in good space around them, to overload the north African outfit and create sustained pressure from the flanks.

Juranovic competed well in and out of possession. He had 67 touches of the ball and won six of his eight ground duels, one of two attempted tackles and recovered the ball eight times. The right-back accurately completed 77% of his 43 attempted passes but most of those were pretty safe possession choices into Dejan Lovren and Luka Modric – only two passes were into the final third. [FotMob/Opta]

He did help to draw fouls in the second half, three in total, and successfully completed his only attempted dribble. However, his lack of cross attempts told a story, with Morocco dealing with both of his balls into the box.

Overall both Juranovic and Croatia will need to show a bit more flair and intent in their remaining two group games. Today’s result is far from a disaster for them and the Bhoys star didn’t have an outright stinker, but there’s definitely more to come.

The positive is that he helped keep a clean sheet with his nation and looked solid enough on the right flank. He’ll continue to be a starter for them based on this showing.

Next up is a massive match against Canada on Sunday before a final group game against Belgium. We can look forward to watching Juranovic in both.

In other news, The uncomfortable Celtic truth for Rangers that Giovanni van Bronckhorst’s sacking won’t change.