After shining in the round of 16, taking three penalties, and helping Croatia to eliminate Japan on penalties, goalkeeper Dominik Livakovic was back in the spotlight, this time to leave Brazil on the way.
The Croatian archer made great saves in normal time, saved a ball in overtime added time – which ended 1-1 –, taking the match to penalties. He even defended Rodrygo’s kick, the first of the series, reassuring his teammates, who didn’t miss it — 4-2 to Croatia on penalties.
Livakovic has starred in four penalty saves in the World Cup knockout so far – two against Brazil and two against Japan. He became the goalkeeper who saved the most penalties in World Cup qualifying, according to data from Opta.
This is Livakovic’s second World Cup. Before being a football player, he wanted to be a diplomat and played basketball. To choose the position, Casillas served as an inspiration to the Croatian goalkeeper, who is newly married.
The 27-year-old goalkeeper was one of Subasic’s reserves at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, when Croatia was runner-up, defeated by France in the decision. After the tournament, the starting goalkeeper announced his retirement from the national team.
It was the chance Livakovich needed. The goalkeeper of Dinamo Zagreb, a Croatian team, debuted as a starter on June 8, 2019, against Wales, in the qualifiers for Euro 2020. He won the Kalinic competition and took the position.
Against Japan, Livakovic equaled a World Cup record by saving three penalties in one such contest. The brand was established in 2006 by Portuguese goalkeeper Ricardo, in a game against England, in the quarterfinals of the World Cup in Germany. In 2018, Subasic, one of the idols of the current Croatian goalkeeper, also saved three penalties – in the round of 16, against Denmark.
In addition to Subasic, Livakovic has two Spaniards as inspiration. The great idol is Iker Casillas, world champion in 2010. In addition to the former Real Madrid goalkeeper, De Gea, a Manchester United player, is also an example for the goalkeeper of the Croatian national team.
“Besides Subasic, my examples are Spanish goalkeepers: De Gea, and Casillas – who made me choose the goalkeeping position when I was a boy,” said Livakovic in an interview with Croatian newspaper “Jutarnji”.
Before the consecration against the Japanese national team, Livakovic had already shown his teammates what he was capable of. In penalty kicks training, the goalkeeper left his teammates amazed.
“In training [antes do jogo contra o Japão], we practiced, he took almost all the penalties. And we thought, ‘we’re really really bad’. We told him: ‘You need to do this in the game’ and he did it,” said defender Lovren, who said he was very calm on the kicks,” said Croatian defender Lovren.
Luka Modric, voted the best player in the world in 2018, also praised the Croatian goalkeeper, saying he exudes confidence.
“He’s a great player. He’s a great goalkeeper, we always have confidence in him. He’s always shown he’s in good shape,” he said.
Traditional family and grand wedding
Livakovich is from an influential family in Croatia. His paternal grandfather was a doctor when the country was still part of the former Yugoslavia. The player’s father, an engineer, was Minister of Infrastructure.
In addition to being a doctor, Livakovic’s grandfather was passionate about basketball and a member of a basketball club in the city of Zadar, where the goalkeeper was born. The Croatian archer even played basketball before defining his preference for football.
Dominik Livakovich is newly married. In June, he hooked up with industrial designer Helena Matic. The wedding, full of pomp, was at the Cathedral of Santa Anastasia, in Zadar, Croatia.
Classified to the semifinal, Croatia awaits the winner of Holland x Argentina, who face each other today (9), at 16h (from Brasilia).
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